For years, cricket matches have begun with a coin toss and the familiar calls of ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ but Australia’s Big Bash has tossed away tradition to introduce the bat flip as a means of deciding who’ll bat or bowl first.
The choice ‘heads or tails’ was replaced by ‘hills or flats’ in the forth competition as a specially-designed bat was chucked in t he air. The bat flip is commonly used in Australian backyard matches but this is the first time it has been used in top-level competition.
Adelaide Strikers captain Colin Ingram won the KFC BBL’s first ever bat flip, calling roofs, and his side opted to bowl first at the Gabba as the defending champions open the new season against the Brisbane Heat.
Queensland legend Matthew Hayden flipped up the bat, which was custom-made by Kookaburra to be flat on both sides and of symmetrical weight. It has stickers to differentiate between ‘roofs’ and ‘flats’.
There are three debutants for the Heat with Mujeeb Ur Rahman, James Pattinson, Max Bryant all making their club debuts, while for the Strikers new recruit Matt Short was named in the XI for his first game with the club.
The Heat have their strongest XI on the park with none of their players missing with international duty, while Adelaide are without Travis Head, who is with Australia’s Test squad for their ongoing Domain Test Series with India.
Australia’s Big Bash bursts back to life:
Australia´s Big Bash League explodes into life for its eighth season today boasting new ideas but only a handful of top players as the high-octane Twenty20 tournament tries to build on its success.
This year´s fast-paced, family-friendly event is the biggest yet with the eight franchises playing each other twice over a total of 56 round-robin matches in a season spanning nearly two months and culminating in semi-finals followed by a February 17 final.
After a cricket television rights bidding war, 43 matches will be shown simultaneously on domestic commercial and pay-TV, with pay-TV airing another 16 exclusively.
There is a promise of more innovation to keep fans engaged during an event with a history of breaking new ground.
The BBL first introduced flashing stumps which light up when the bails are dislodged. They are now used in international matches.
The event was also the first to experiment with player microphones, where commentators can chat to players, and helmet cameras.
More changes are afoot, with organisers deciding to break with tradition and scrap the coin toss to decide who bats first.
Instead captains will flip a bat, calling “hills” or “flats” rather than heads or tails — a practice straight out of children´s backyard cricket.
“For me it´s a great moment which reflects what BBL is about,” said Kim McConnie, Cricket Australia´s head of the Big Bash League.
“Some people don´t like change but I´d also challenge people to say when was the last time anyone watched the coin toss or really focused on it to a great extent?
“Now we are making it much more relevant to families, we are creating a moment which is much more fitting with kids.”
Some are keen for even more change to keep the BBL relevant amid a growing glut of similar Twenty leagues across the world.
“The tournament is marketed brilliantly and apart from the Indian Premier League is the envy of the cricket world in many ways,” said former Australia batsman Dean Jones, now head coach of Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League.
However, I feel the fans are starting to want more for their money.
Jones suggested Australian Test players should find more time to play BBL games, there should be bigger money to attract more top overseas names and the tournament should be shortened.