While the UK shudders from the meteorological armegeddon that saw Carlisle Cricket Club pavilion almost entirely submerged…on the other side of the world, a sun-kissed, cricketing carnival is about to launch: the Big Bash League.
The fifth edition of Australia’s domestic Twenty20 competition or #BBL05 to grope for a hashtag, sets off with unrivalled brim and bravado.
Flashing bails? Check! Superstars in coloured pyamas? Check! Bumper crowds? Oh, yes!
While us county cricket fans wring our hands and ponder how to maximise what is currently the NatWest T20 Blast, Australia has leapt ahead with innovation and daring.
True, we’re comparing apples and oranges as to the geography, climate, politics, finances and thinking but even so, the Australian T20 model is hard to fault on any number of levels.
BBL05 is on free-to-air TV in Australia (Network Ten – but on Sky Sports for UK-based cricket fans) with cheap tickets (twenty dollars for adults – £13 and $5 for kids – £3) and the presence of the premier T20 cricketers from across the planet is a sure-fire way for packing them in.
This year, as you dive headlong into the Christmas turkey and practice your bouncer with the mince pies, the KFC BBL will be generating scorching social media fanfare with bulging viewing figures.
Three hours of entertainment per match is a bite-sized commitment; a condensed schedule of 35 matches over 39 days equates to around a month of BBL action daily and only eight teams keeps it all fresh and lean.
English cricketers have yet to convince franchises in any significant number that they’re worth signing – there are four overseas spots for each squad and two allowed in each match day eleven which makes for tough competition with the likes of Gayle, Jayawardene
However, Alex Hales (picked for England’s South Africa tour), Michael Lumb (Sydney Sixers), Kevin Pietersen (Melbourne Stars) and Michael Carberry (Perth Scorchers) are seasoned BBL campaigners (if you can be seasoned within a tournament that is younger than most of my cricket socks).
There’s a strong Yorkshire County Cricket Club presence across a smattering of the teams to look out for.
This will be Jason Gillespie’s debut as coach of Adelaide Strikers; a new arrangement that sees his time split between Australia and then latterly, coach of Yorkshire County Cricket Club as they go gunning for a third, consecutive LV=County Championship in 2016.
In the wake of Adil Rashid’s non-selection for the tour to South Africa, Gillespie wasted no time in snapping up the legspinner-batsman for his own Strikers squad – a move that should benefit the player (after a topsy-turvy UAE tour with England) and county (big-game experience ahead of the 2016 T20 Blast).
Rashid already has a Big Bash League title under his belt having bowled with composure and proved a matchwinner for West End Redbacks team in 2010/11 when they snapped up the KFC Twenty20 Big Bash title.
Yorkshire CCC’s 2015 overseas signings Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch both feature as you’d expect but another intriguing aspect will be how new Yorkshire signing, David Willey, fares for the Perth Scorchers franchise.
Willey may end up being a lynchpin for Yorkshire Vikings next season with his left-arm rockets and six-hitting prowess so this Australian adventure will be a test of his credentials and potential.
So…buckle up. You want pantomime fisticuffs? Of course you do. How about twenty runs off a single ball? Been there, done that already, expect the absolutely outrageous…
It will be loud, brash, non-stop action and provides a welcome midwinter distraction for fans here in England who are likely pining for light, warmth and cricket.
BIG BASH LEAGUE – YORKSHIRE CONTINGENT:
Glenn Maxwell (Melbourne Stars), Aaron Finch (Melbourne Renegades), David Willey (Perth Scorchers), Adil Rashid (Adelaide Strikers) and Jason Gillespie (coach, Adelaide Strikers).
FULL SQUAD LISTS:
Jono Dean, Travis Head, Brad Hodge, Jon Holland, Mahela Jayawardene (SL), Alex Keath, Hamish Kingston, Ben Laughlin, Jake Lehmann, Tim Ludeman, Michael Neser, Gary Putland, Adil Rashid (Eng), Kane Richardson, Alex Ross, Craig Simmons, Kelvin Smith, Billy Stanlake.
Samuel Badree (WI), Joe Burns, Nick Buchanan, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Andrew Fekete, Luke Feldman, Jason Floros, Peter Forrest, James Hopes, Josh Lalor, Chris Lynn, Jimmy Peirson, Nathan Reardon, Lendl Simmons (WI), Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Jack Wildermuth
George Bailey, Cameron Boyce, Daniel Christian, Ben Dunk, Michael Hill, Clive Rose, Jake Reed, Sam Rainbird, Simon Milenko, Tim Paine, Shaun Tait, Timm van der Gugten, Beau Webster, Jon Wells, Dom Michael, Kumar Sangakkara (SL), Darren Sammy (W), Joe Mennie.
Tom Beaton, Dwayne Bravo (WI), Tom Cooper, Xavier Doherty, Aaron Finch, Cameron Gannon, Chris Gayle (WI), Nathan Hauritz, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Nate Rimmington, Matt Short, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Matthew Wade, Guy Walker, Cameron White.
Michael Beer, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, Seb Gotch, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, John Hastings, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Kevin Pietersen (Eng), Rob Quiney, Marcus Stoinis, Tom Triffitt, Daniel Worrall, Luke Wright, Adam Zampa.
Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Michael Carberry (Eng), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Marcus Harris, Brad Hogg, Michael Klinger, Simon Mackin, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, James Muirhead, Joel Paris, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, David Willey (Eng), Adam Voges, Sam Whiteman.
Sean Abbott, Doug Bollinger, Jackson Bird, Johan Botha (SAf), Ryan Carters, Ed Cowan, Ben Dwarshuis, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Trent Lawford, Michael Lumb (Eng), Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Steve O’Keefe, Jordan Silk, Steve Smith.
Fawad Ahmed, Ahillen Beadle, Aiden Blizzard, Jake Doran, Chris Green, Chris Hartley, Mike Hussey, Jacques Kallis (SAf), Usman Khawaja, Alister McDermott, Andrew McDonald, Clint Mckay, Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer, Andre Russell (WI), Gurinder Sandhu, Shane Watson.