Big Bash League boss Alistair Dobson has predicted Perth will be at the forefront of a resurgent competition this summer, as the Twenty20 tournament seeks to shrug off two summers of COVID chaos.
Dobson has been in Perth for meetings with key partners, including Perth Scorchers and Optus Stadium, at a time the global game enters one of its most turbulent periods as the rise of T20 franchise leagues threatens to upend bilateral international cricket.
In response to direct competition from new leagues in the UAE and South Africa, Cricket Australia is understood to be on the cusp of announcing David Warner’s return to the Big Bash with Sydney Thunder. Warner is expected to play for the first time since 2013/14 under a special deal which could make him the competition’s highest paid player.
The fate of fellow top-order blaster Chris Lynn remains uncertain, with the former Brisbane Heat batsman looming as an intriguing Australian test case.
Dobson said Lynn, who has been announced as an inaugural marquee player for the UAE’s ILT20 in January, had not requested a no objection certificate. It comes amid legal uncertainty over whether CA would be able to stop him anyway given he doesn’t hold any Australian contract.
The Scorchers have played just five out of 17 designated home BBL games, including finals, in Perth over the past two seasons due to border issues.
The reigning champions will return to Optus Stadium when they launch their campaign with a grand final rematch against Sydney Sixers on December 17.
“It’s almost like we get a chance to relaunch the BBL again in Perth after a couple of pretty tough and disrupted years,” Dobson said.
“The opportunity to put on a big show in front of big crowds, I think the seven Scorchers games here play such a big part of our season. There’s a reason for the big Scorchers game here on that first Saturday night, because we just know the impact that will have not only in Perth but around the country.
“People are going to remember and be reminded of why the BBL is such a success story in Australian sport.”
The cricket upheaval, driven by a boom in privately-owned T20 franchise leagues, has been underlined by England star Ben Stokes’ recent retirement from one-day cricket and New Zealand granting fast bowler Trent Boult a release from his central contract.
There will be no men’s one-day internationals in Australia after November after none at all last season.
“It’s a really interesting time in world cricket,” Dobson said.
“I think it’s shifting by the day it seems at times. We’re obviously watching it really closely and having to adapt and continue to be nimble around that. Those big name players bring such value and drive such interest that they’re worth every dollar.”
Dobson said the inaugural BBL overseas player draft, to be held on the AFL’s pre-finals bye weekend on August 28, had already been a promotional success.
“We’ve already seen the amount of BBL talk and conversation in July and August is unprecedented,” he said.
Dobson said Warner would be a huge asset.
“He’s as big a name as there is and he has such a rich history in the BBL,” he said.
“If he ends up playing this season, there would be no bigger name and he would bring such excitement to the competition.”