BBL schedule creating confusion: Langer

With finals participants missing star players, CA CEO Sutherland concedes there's no perfect solution to calendar issues

Cricket Network

31 January 2018, 07:20 PM AEST

The scheduling of KFC Big Bash finals among the international calendar remains one of the "biggest challenges" for Cricket Australia, says Perth Scorchers coach Justin Langer.

Speaking on the eve of his team's semi-final clash with Hobart Hurricanes at the new Optus Stadium in Perth, Langer said confusion among fans reigned at this time of the summer, with the selection of star BBL players robbing fans of the opportunity to see their teams compete at full strength at the business end of the season.

"I think (the schedule) is one of the biggest challenges for the Big Bash and Cricket Australia (CA) going forward," the 105-Test veteran said.

"As soon as the public gets confused, I think you've got problems."

The Scorchers are a case in point when it comes to leaving supporters confounded; they will be without Australia T20I pair Ashton Agar and AJ Tye, but those losses will be offset by the returns of Shaun and Mitchell Marsh – neither of whom have played a match this tournament.

Their opponents meanwhile, lose BBL|07 leading run-scorer D'Arcy Short, and pick up Australia Test and ODI gloveman Tim Paine. 

CA did endeavour to make ODI players available where possible throughout the recent series against England, but at present there appears no perfect solution when it comes to the Big Bash finals and the T20 internationals, with CEO James Sutherland pointing out there was much more than simply those matches to consider.

"I certainly concede that there's nothing perfect about the scheduling," Sutherland said on SEN Radio. "At this time of year, as we reach a climax around the Big Bash League, it's a little bit of a softening in that peak because we've got one-day international cricket or T20 cricket.

"We're managing that and balancing it as best we can. International programming is the starting point and getting that sorted every year is our first priority. It doesn't happen unilaterally – we're not like the AFL or the NRL that can just roll out a program, we have to negotiate with lots of different parties."

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Sutherland used the example of India, who are touring for four a four-Test series next summer, to highlight the challenges faced by CA in terms of the rigidity of the international schedule, with each series played by each country potentially affecting the timing of those before and after.

"You've got all these pieces on a chess board that need to land," he added. "We try to protect our peak summer period as best we can for international cricket – Boxing Day, New Year's Test matches and everything around that."

The CA boss conceded this necessitated the Big Bash and domestic cricket in general being a "poor cousin" in relation to the international game, but added that further discussions were taking place regarding the BBL schedule.

"It's a poor cousin in some ways you might say but at the same time we have hopes we can build that by perhaps giving it some clear air in February," he said.

"That's something we're exploring, as we are looking at the women's (Big Bash) league, perhaps moving that into an earlier part of the year, perhaps through October-November, where it can thrive under its own spotlight."

Adelaide coach Jason Gillespie, whose team host Melbourne Renegades on Friday night without captain Travis Head and fellow T20I pair Alex Carey and Billy Stanlake, was accepting of the dilemma.

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"We're well aware of scheduling well before the season gets underway," Gillespie said. "We've known all along that should we be fortunate to make finals and some players are fortunate to be selected to represent their country, then so be it.

"That's why we have squads and we've got a squad of 18, and that's why we spend a lot of time going over and trying to put together the best squad we possibly can for any absences.

"And part of our goal here is to help players get out there and perform, and achieve their goals and dreams of representing their country.

"We can't control the scheduling, we just work our best way through it."