A standoff could be looming over Big Bash games on Christmas Day after players’ association boss Todd Greenberg said he was “open to the discussion” despite strong pushback against such a move by the players themselves.
Australian white-ball gun Adam Zampa and his Melbourne Stars teammate Hilton Cartwright could not have been more emphatic that Christmas Day was a “no-go zone” for the Big Bash.
Perth Scorchers quick Jason Behrendorff, an Australian Cricketers Association delegate, also declared his opposition as the annual debate raged over the past week.
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But that strong sense of player revolt wasn’t reflected by Greenberg, who was adamant the door was not shut on the idea and that the players are indeed “open” to it.
Having been beaten to the history-making move by the NBL, whose December 25 match drew 7000 people to the game in Sydney and became the most watched TV match of the season, the prospect of the Big Bash following suit sooner rather than later looms large.
As discussions continue for a new TV rights deal, with Cricket Australia chasing upwards of $1.5 billion, innovation is expected and that could include finally making the Christmas Day game happen.
Greenberg went against those thoughts put forward by players in the past few days and said, while not “jumping up and down” to play on December 25, the value could not be ignored for much longer, albeit only under the right circumstances.
“The short answer is yes, they (the players) are open to it,” he said on Wednesday.
“If we were to do it, we would have to have some conditions; it would need to be a derby – a Sydney or a Melbourne derby, where teams don’t have to travel.
“In short, are we jumping up and down saying we want to play on Christmas Day? No.
“But if we think it will add significant value and be beneficial for the game, we are open to that discussion, so we haven’t closed the door, but I think you’d have to look at it carefully.”
Greenberg said the game would rate “unbelievably strongly” and for all their angst, the players had to understand that’s the business they are in.
“We are in the entertainment business,” he told SEN.
“So if that means working Christmas night, let’s have the conversation.”
Zampa, the Stars’ skipper, said this week the non-stop nature of modern cricket, with players rarely getting to spend time with their families, made Christmas Day cricket a bad idea.
“I don’t really want to play on Christmas Day,” he said.
“Our schedules are hectic enough as is, particularly for the Stars. Obviously the Boxing Day Test is on, so we’re not in Melbourne, we’re away quite a bit this time of year.
“To add in a Christmas Day game would be out of the question.”