Is Big Bash League hindering Test cricket's growth in Australia?
The sparkling Big Bash League is freezing Test cricket's growth in Australia, and something needs to be done to preserve the longest form of the game, according to senior cricket writer Peter Badel.
"Cricket Australia (CA) faces some major promotional challenges to reinvigorate Test cricket in the hearts and minds of the Australian public," Badel wrote in his column for News.com.au.
"And, ironically, the greatest cannibalistic threat to the five-day game is coming from within, via the Big Bash, the very concept intended to cultivate and complement the sport's growth," he added.
Image: Rob Quiney and Luke Wright of the Stars
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
'Ponting deserved a full house'
"CA boss James Sutherland and his marketing boffins should be deeply alarmed by the feeble crowd figures for the first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart," he further wrote.
Badel added: "In a week where local hero Ricky Ponting was paraded to his people to honour his Test retirement, a day at the cricket should have been the hottest ticket in town."
"Given his incredible contribution, Ponting deserved a full house in Hobart. Instead, he waved to a slew of empty seats on day one, when an army of schoolkids issued hundreds of free tickets swelled the humble 6221 attendance," he pointed out.
Image: Ricky Ponting does a lap of honour with his daughters
Photographs: Matt King/Getty Images
'Test cricket is too meaningful to become irrelevant'
"Over the first three days, a total of 14,419 fans rolled up to watch an Australian side considered one of the leading teams in world sport. It barely eclipsed the 14,185 who turned up to the same ground to watch a Big Bash semi-final between the Hurricanes and Sixers in January," he added.
"Test cricket is too meaningful to ever become an irrelevance, but Cricket Australia needs to find ways to promote its elite talent to ensure they play before bumper crowds and full houses," he concluded.
Image: Australia's Michael Hussey (left), captain Michael Clarke and Phil Hughes celebrate
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters