Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts says the governing body will consider the need for a reserve day for the final as Ricky Ponting called for the tournament to follow the lead of other major limited-overs tournaments.
A wild weekend of rain and thunderstorms in Sydney that could see up to 90mm dumped on the SCG has already forced CA to move the Bushfire Cricket Bash celebrity fundraiser match to Melbourne’s Junction Oval.
Roberts admitted moving the BBL final to the MCG was also one of the many scenarios discussed by officials this week, before they ultimately decided it would be unfair to change competition rules at the eleventh hour and deny the Sydney Sixers a home final.
A host of major T20 events around the world, including the T20 World Cup (both men’s and women’s), the Indian Premier League and England’s domestic T20 competition, schedule reserve days for finals, typically the day after the match.
The BBL does not, and while Ponting acknowledged one may be futile this weekend anyway given the torrential rain predicted on Sunday in Sydney, the former Test captain believes future editions of the tournament must build one into the fixture.
“Sunday could be washed as well but at least it’s giving you another opportunity to have a winner and have a full game completed,” said Ponting, who will captain one of the sides in Sunday’s charity match that will now be held immediately after Australia’s women’s T20 international against England.
“I think that’s something, as Kev said, we’d sit down at the end of this season and talk about ways the Big Bash can be improved and I think that’s one of the first things that would come up.
“In fact, I think it’s probably the only T20 competition in the world that doesn’t have a reserve day for the final. It’s definitely something to look at … I think it’s really important.”
Legendary former Test keeper Adam Gilchrist, who was announced as Shane Warne’s replacement as captain of the other Bushfire Bash team with the spin legend unable to play on Sunday, agreed with Ponting.
The importance of a reserve day was displayed as recently as July when New Zealand and India’s 50-over World Cup semi-final at Old Trafford was halted due to rain. The teams resumed play on the following day’s reserve day and got a result.
The aftermath of the controversial finish of the final of that World Cup highlighted CA has been willing to be proactive maintaining fairness in its own playing conditions.
England were crowned champions over New Zealand despite scores being tied after the match proper and the ensuing super over on an obscure boundary countback buried in the ICC’s playing conditions, which proved the catalyst for CA to introduce “unlimited super overs” as a tie-breaker for BBL finals games.
Roberts said the introduction of a reserve day would be considered as part of its regular reviews of the BBL season.
“They will be some of the things we can look in terms of our reflections and what that means for the tournament,” he told reporters.
“We’ll consider that and the all of the other dynamics of the season when it’s over.”
Unlike Ponting, Gilchrist also suggested he had been in favour of moving the BBL final and the Bushfire Bash to the MCG.
But Roberts insisted a late change to the BBL playing conditions that teams had taken as gospel would be unfair and said moving the fundraising match was the more practical solution.
“I don’t think it’s helpful to any sporting competition to change the rules midway through the season,” said Roberts.
“We really wanted to respect the position of the BBL final. The BBL is one of the premier sporting competitions in the world and you don’t play with the rules of a premier sporting competition.
“We wanted to give the curators every chance to get the SCG looking its best.
“Either way it’s a win-win – if we have (last season’s runners-up) the Melbourne Stars in the final, they’ll be challenging for the trophy two years in a row.
“If we have the Sydney Thunder in the final it will be the biggest domestic match in the history of New South Wales.”