At a time when Cricket Australia should be doing everything to win back its fan base, it appears to be doing exactly the opposite.
The cash cow that is the Big Bash League appears to be being milked to within a boundary of its lucrative udders running dry.
By the time the Hurricanes and three other teams get around to playing the semi-finals of the expanded T20 competition, the kids won’t just have gone back to school but started choosing their leavers’ dinner outfits.
The Sheffield Shield – allegedly the highest standard of domestic cricket on offer in Australia – has been put on hold to facilitate milking time in the BBL shed.
Meanwhile the one-day game – the forgotten member of the family, like Maurice Gibb in the Bee Gees – has been downgraded to virtual pointlessness domestically and sold out internationally.
BBL has lost its mojo, season too long. ACB obviously looking at the dollars. If your keeping the length, split the season in half. 20/20 competition for half season and the other half 10/10?10/10 is the future, watch this space. #boringgames#bestplayersneedtoplay— Brad Green (@bradgreen18) January 16, 2019
So despite the unfathomable embarrassment and unquantifiable consequences of what Dave Warner, Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft but definitely nobody else got up to with a Bunnings gift voucher nearing its use-by date, Cricket Australia is overseeing unfavourable trajectories in all three formats.
A better example of alienating your audience would be hard to find unless Donald Trump was to suddenly take a strong stand in favour of gun reform.
Selling out to pay TV would have to be the pinnacle of Cricket Australia’s self-satisfying incompetence.
Take last Friday. It should have been one of those days that tested marriages from Perth to Port Arthur.
A series-deciding one-day international in Melbourne was to dovetail neatly with a pivotal BBL clash between the competition’s most successful team and this season’s pace-setter in a rematch of last season’s pulsating semi-final.
However, deprived of seeing all the above on free-to-air television, adults across the nation were instead tucked up in bed and free to produce a whole new generation of cricket-loving Australians to be exploited and taken for granted by the sport’s national body.
It cannot be ignored that Cricket Australia’s wayward steering has coincided uncannily with Australian cricket’s car crash.
A veritable Indian summer saw Virat Kohli’s men win a Test series in Australia for the first time in 71 years of trying before going on to record their first bilateral ODI series victory here.
The latter was the Aussies’ sixth straight one-day series loss as they prepare to defend their World Cup in England in May.
They also haven’t won a Test series since the last Ashes.
Interestingly, the famed reverse swing which played such a big part in that triumph appears to have mysteriously disappeared since the one-off occurrences in Cape Town.
It is also worth noting that had this summer’s matches not been so well supported by the legions of Australian-based Indian supporters, attendances would also have been ringing alarm bells.
Like Aaron Finch facing Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Cricket Australia likes to come out firing.
At the start of the year, as a member of the Australian Cricket Family, I received a personal email from Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings – well, as personal as an email can be.
The Australian Cricket Family is an intriguing concept. A bit like the Royal Family, one needs to join it to earn privilege – in this case to buy tickets.
[It's] been a turbulent yearCricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings
I read on eagerly, if only to discover whether Earl is Eddings’ Christian name or title.
It was a sensational example of blinkered management speak, delicately tiptoeing around a minefield of actual issues.
Making no direct reference to having a captain implicit in cheating, Eddings merely commented that it had been “a turbulent year”.
He added: “If nothing else, 2018 has really demonstrated to me the dizzying highs and crushing lows of a competitive field in elite cricket, both on and off the field.”
Three of his statements warrant particular scrutiny.
My increased interest in #BBL08 courtesy of the fine performances by @HurricanesBBL is suddenly decreasing. Friday and Saturday night in the middle of summer and we Fox-less Aussies can't see a ball bowled. Extraordinary choices of nights not to show the action.— Brian Roe (@Doctor_Roe) January 19, 2019
“As we head into the New Year we will continue to listen and collaborate with you, so together, we can continue to unite and inspire communities.”
“We have so many opportunities to improve the way we do things and make cricket stronger, together.”
“We are genuinely committed to earning back the trust of cricket fans across the country and making Australia proud again.”
The Australian cricket viewing community appears to be united already, in condemnation of Cricket Australia’s decision to sell home internationals and parts of the BBL to Fox.
The national body does indeed have so many opportunities to make cricket stronger, not least resurrecting domestic one-day and first-class competitions strong enough to produce players capable of performing on the international stage.
And if it is genuinely committed to fans across the country, why not listen to them instead of the money men at Fox Sports?