First published on 15 Dec 2011. Updated on 15 Dec 2011.
For the unacquainted, T20 cricket, the sport’s most recent incarnation, is short, fast and full of swinging. Each side has only 20 overs (roughly an hour and a half) to post a total, and you should expect more balls in the parking lot than your average Boxing Day test. There are, of course, purists who will tell you that test matches are cricket’s only true form, but if you like your sport action-packed, intense and brightly coloured, then T20 is for you.
The inaugural T20 Big Bash league kicks off this weekend and is the most hyped up short-form tournament in Australia’s history. Each city is represented by entirely new franchises in an eight team round-robin, and the top two teams will qualify for the international Champions League T20. With offshore stars like Kieron Pollard and Daniel Vettori mixing with an abundance of local talent, there are sure to be some fireworks. Think NBA, rather than Richie Benaud.
Metrosexuality has snuck its way into the Big Bash, too: the Sydney Sixers will be pretty in pink (they’ll call it cerise) in cricket’s boldest strip since the Kiwi ‘beige brigade’ in the 80s. But their impressive line-up suggests they'll be aggressive around the park. Aussie keeper Brad Haddin will mind the stumps while blonde bombshells Brett Lee and Shane Watson (pending injury) rocket them in. West Indian rockstar Dwayne Bravo will be dangerous as always, but all eyes will be on young gun Pat Cummins who looms as the great white hope of Australian Cricket after his five wicket haul on test debut in South Africa. The Sixers take on the Brisbane Heat in the season opener this Friday at the SCG (Dec 16, 7pm AEST).
The harbour city will also be represented in the 'Bash by the Sydney Thunder. Local Usman Khawaja will have a chance to show his worth on the big stage and Doug Bollinger will be looking sharp, but the team’s real star will be marquee signing Chris Gayle. The West Indian great has relocated to Sydney after turning his back on his national test side, and his fabled rig has been spotted on Bondi Beach with a bit of bling to boot. Whether the 32-year-old is just after a quick buck remains under question, but Time Out reckons he can still destroy teams like he used to. The Thunder head to the MCG on Saturday to face Shane Warne and the Melbourne Stars (Dec 17, 7pm AEST). Warney is in doubt, though, having burnt his hand badly while frying up a batch of bacon – as if Liz Hurley could ever change him.
The Big Bash speaks loud and clear of cricket’s changing nature, but Time Out is ready to have a swing!
Matches at ANZ Stadium:
Fri 23 Dec: Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers
Fri 30 Dec: Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades
Sun 8 Jan: Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers
Wed 11 Jan: Sydney Thunder v Perth Scorchers
Matches at Sydney Cricket Ground:
Fri 16 Dec: Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat
Tue 27 Dec: Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars
Wed 18 Jan: Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers