The Big Bash League might be good fun and all, but Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland is adamant that the baggy green remains at the top of the Australian cricketing tree.
The BBL is proving more popular than ever in its fifth season, in terms of both television ratings and crowds, while the Test series against a sub-standard West Indies side struggles to gain traction with local cricket lovers.
But Sutherland was quick to reaffirm the pecking order when asked if the Boxing Day Test was playing second fiddle to the barnstorming success of Australia’s domestic Twenty20 competition.
“We’re very keen on sticking very close to our strategy that the Big Bash league is very much complementary to what is the main game – international cricket is the main game,” Sutherland told ABC radio on Sunday.
“With the Big Bash League we’ve always been about bringing new people to the game, very much about kids, very much about families and females – nothing will change on that front – and we want to graduate people’s interest into … international cricket.
“I think the natural progression and understanding is very clearly on the top of the pyramid lies that baggy green and the opportunity to play Test cricket for your country.”
Sutherland said that the focus in the short to medium-term would remain on building the foundations of the BBL in its current format with eight member teams.
Given the foothold the BBL has already gained in five seasons, Sutherland denied that Cricket Australia was at risk of creating a monster of its own making that could possibly end up hurting the popularity of Test cricket.
BBL organisers sparked debate in the days leading up to Christmas when they raised the possibility of scheduling a match on Christmas Day, as some sports do in America, and Sutherland admitted the idea has some merit.
“It’s an interesting one,” he said. “I’ve got to say it hadn’t actually occurred to me before but sitting back on Christmas night, having had the great night’s entertainment we’d had in the previous week or so, it’s something that I guess will be on the drawing board.”