There was once a time when summer in Australia meant it was Cricket season.
No other sport existed during summers. There was no thought of the football season. It was all about Cricket and that is the way it always looked like being.
Then something changed…
As Rugby League and AFL both grew in strength the interest in them outside of their traditional winter seasons also grew. The change in media cycles meant that all of a sudden the news cycles for both sports started to creep into summer. Now, especially for Rugby League, there is a 12 month news cycle that covers issues that are happening in the game every single day. That is something Cricket never used to have to deal with.
You also have the rise of the Soccer A League in Australia. With the crushing weight of the Rugby League and AFL seasons taking over everything in winter, a number of smaller sports in Australia have looked to set up shop in the less crowded sporting market you find in summer. Most attempts have failed, but the A League has finally become a true staple of Summer for a lot of Australian sports fans and more and more you find people watching the A League rather than the Cricket.
Cricket itself has not helped it own cause.
By eroding its traditional calender and pushing State sides into the background, the system that was envied world wide for its ability to produce test players straight out of the box now looks more like an afterthought that means very little, even to Australian selectors. Setting up the T/20 Big Bash League with made up teams and a collection of players from all over the place with little to no connection to the sides they are playing for was meant to be the future. So far though it seems the interest factor is falling from curiosity to who cares. That is not even to mention that the competition is scheduled to ls around $10 million again this season.
None of this has been helped by the fact Sri Lanka turned up for the Test series and looked like one of the worst touring teams of all time. That was then followed up by selectors deciding to completely devalue Australian selection by running out a second string lineup against Sri Lanka in the one day games.
Cricket in Australia knows that the landscape is changing. The problem is the powers that be seem to think they can lower the value of their product and people will keep buying it as they have in the past. That is simply not the case. On top of other sports encroaching on Crickets spotlight, as well as competing for sporting talent, Cricket also faces the issue of non sporting entertainment challenging it more and more.
Cricket people will point to the success of the Ashes series and even the recent test series against South Africa as reason to not worry, but that is my point. When Cricket offers the best it can to fans in this country, win, lose or draw, people will eat it up. Australian sports fans are use to seeing the best of the best and no sport can afford to take fans for granted by offering them anything less.
Administrators of Cricket in Australia need to step back and look at the bigger picture. They all seem so intent to make side projects work that they don’t realize the main game is being left as an after thought.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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