BBL on Jan 26 needs consultation: Doggett

Jasper Bruce |

Sydney Thunder’s Brendan Doggett (left) and James Whiting show of the BBL side’s Indigenous shirt.
Sydney Thunder’s Brendan Doggett (left) and James Whiting show of the BBL side’s Indigenous shirt.

Sydney Thunder paceman and Worimi man Brendan Doggett would be open to playing Big Bash finals games on January 26 under the tournament’s new structure, provided Cricket Australia consults the Indigenous community before making any firm scheduling decisions.

After criticism from players and pundits that it had become too long, the BBL will downsize from 61 to 43 games by the 2024/25 tournament at the latest, but potentially from next summer if broadcasters agree.

The shorter structure will allow the BBL to corner the family market and fit into the school holiday period, shifting its finals matches from early February to late January, when school holidays wrap up.

The change means January 26 will figure in scheduling discussions for the hotly-anticipated BBL final, especially given it is a public holiday and falls on viewer-friendly Friday and Saturday in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

No games will be played on January 26 this year, but AAP understands this decision was made to avoid drawing viewers away from the Australian women’s T20I match, and to give finalists the day off before the sudden-death phase of the BBL starts on the 27th.

CA’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee previously backed the decision for the sport to stop referring to the date in question as Australia Day and was also consulted before CA scheduled the women’s T20I game against Pakistan on January 26.

CA CEO Nick Hockley told SEN last week that no hard decisions had yet been made as to whether the final would be played on January 26 in future summers.

Doggett said he wouldn’t oppose playing the final on January 26 but encouraged CA to continue consulting with members of the Indigenous community as it began planning.

“I just want us all to unite and be respectful and acknowledge our past. If we can do that together and keep moving forward together, I think it’s only going to help,” he said.

“If there’s a way that we can do that by playing games on the 26th, or changing the name (from Australia Day), or whatever that is, I would like us to do that. 

“The people who are doing the work in the community are the ones we need to consult, not us guys who are just on TV.

“I think there are a lot of other people who have far more knowledge and their opinions mean far more.”

The BBL’s second First Nations Round begins on Friday night when Doggett’s Thunder face reigning champions the Perth Scorchers at Sydney Showground Stadium.

With Scott Boland sitting the BBL out to focus on national duties and Josh Lalor no longer contracted, Doggett, D’Arcy Short and Dan Christian are the only three men of Indigenous heritage playing in the tournament this summer.

But Doggett said he hoped initiatives like First Nations Round and the annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander T20 Cup, in which the Thunder fields a team, would show young Indigenous cricketers there was a place for them in the BBL.

“Indigenous kids are freakishly talented, as soon as they pick up a bat and a ball, it all happens pretty quickly for them,” he said.