Finch raises prospect of relocating BBL teams, calls for draft to go

The former Australia captain believes clubs should be able to sign overseas players directly

Andrew McGlashan

23-Jan-2024 • 17 hrs ago

Aaron Finch played for Melbourne Renegades throughout his BBL career  •  Cricket Australia via Getty Images

Former Australia captain Aaron Finch has suggested that the future of the BBL could be for Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Renegades to relocate rather than introduce any new teams to the competition.

Finch, who retired from professional cricket earlier this month after being a single-club player with Renegades, also believes the overseas draft must be dropped to allow clubs to sign players directly before they are snapped up by rival leagues.

It was reported in Nine newspapers last week that the ACT are pushing for a new BBL team to be based in Canberra but Finch thinks that would spread players too thinly.

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“I think we’re already a bit thin at the moment with the talent pool to get another side in,” he told ESPN’s Around The Wicket. “I think the obvious one is the Sydney Thunder, they move to Canberra, and think the Melbourne Renegades eventually will move to Geelong. And think that would then start to develop a bigger fan base. It makes sense to be personally.”

Meanwhile, Finch would like to see the draft abolished so that the BBL wasn’t scrambling with player availability. All the finalists in this year’s tournament lost key players to the ILT20 because those deals had been signed earlier. The league has already indicated it is looking for solutions.

“The draft needs to go,” Finch said. “To have the draft so late in the year, people are already committed to the other leagues because they are able to sign direct with teams so then you get Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat, where guys are going off to play other tournaments because they are already committed to it. Let teams be able to sign players now. If Sam Billings wants to sign for Brisbane Heat or Melbourne Renegades, I don’t think it should matter.”

Moving either Thunder or Renegades out of their current respective cities appears highly unlikely, partly because of the value of the four derby matches it allows each season, although Finch is not the first to suggest that Thunder relocate. Ricky Ponting said it may be in their best interests to play in Canberra in order to move away from the often difficult and slow Sydney Showground surface.

Following those comments by Ponting, Thunder captain Chris Green was strong in defence of their current home.

“We’re the Sydney Thunder, this is where we like to play. This is our home ground. This is where we’re from, the west of Sydney,” Green said. “I’d hate to see us move down [to Canberra] permanently. I like staying at home, playing at home, having my family come and watch me play. This is our home base.”

This season the one match that took place in Geelong was abandoned after seven overs due to a dangerous pitch.

Finch was also of the view the tournament remained too long. “You’re not attracting the best players in the world for the money that we pay when you can go to South Africa or go to the ILT20 and earn just as much money for two and a half or three weeks,” he said. “Keep condensing it, because people want to play in the best competition but if it’s six weeks even, that’s a long time over Christmas to be away from family.”

This season’s BBL, which will have lasted seven weeks, saw a five-day break when the Perth Test was staged due to that being broadcast at primetime onto the east coast, something CA hopes to avoid in future seasons, while there will also be a bigger window for Australia Test players to appear with the final Test of the summer to be in the first week of January.

Aaron FinchSydney ThunderMelbourne RenegadesAustraliaBig Bash League

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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