Cricket Tasmania Chief Executive, Nick Cummins, addressed the media with Hurricanes Men's Head Coach, Adam Griffith, following the release of the KFC BBL|09 Fixture which features a return of the Christmas Eve afternoon match to Blundstone Arena and the Hurricanes' first-ever interstate home game in Alice Springs.
More highlights of the fixture include all home and season matches fitting within the Tasmanian school holidays and a reworked Finals Series which will see a double chance for the top two teams for the first time.
Key parts of what was discussed in this morning's press conference is below.
Q) Did you get everything you wanted included in the BBL|09 Fixture?
NC: We're part of an eight-team competition and so I think a good fixture often leaves everyone happy and unhappy in equal measure.
Ultimately what we were concerned about was ensuring our fans have enough time to get to Hobart games and Launceston games, that we retained our Christmas Eve game and we want to continue to build on that.
We wanted to have a game between Christmas and New Year's in Launceston, and also have matches at family friendly times, the latest game that we have is at 7:10pm which is still a good time for anyone with young children.
We're pretty pleased with it, it can always be a little bit better but once you change one thing it can have a ripple effect across the fixture.
Q) You've outlined the commercial reasons behind the Alice Springs match but are you bracing for some potentially negative fan reaction?
NC: Every fixture decision we make, effects someone adversely. Whether that's hosting a game when somebody has their work shift scheduled or it's the first or last day of school holidays, there are always games that have an impact.
So, naturally we expect that some people will be adversely impacted by this game. But, we feel the opportunity far outweighs the challenges.
Q) What do you see in Alice Springs which made you think 'we need to take this opportunity?'
NC: It's probably three fold. The first is that if we hadn't have taken a match to Alice Springs we would've had two matches in Hobart within four days. What that would've meant is that we would have had the same number of people attend, split across two games.
Which then turns one game which is potentially profitable to two games which would definitely run at a loss. As an organisation, if a match runs at a loss, that's money that we can't put back into the business and we exist to service community cricket in Tasmania.
So, the chance to commercialise one of our games and drive a better outcome financially means better facilities at community level in Tasmania. It means more money in elite level programs and it means better facilities for Cricket Tasmania and Hobart Hurricanes Members.
The second is it's a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Tasmanian Indigenous culture. D'Arcy Short in particular has been keen on doing something which will recognise indigenous cricket and he was wanting to do some sort of initiative. This provides us with the opportunity, and we've already been working with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Council, to promote the state's indigenous heritage and using the Red Centre games to highlight that.
The third opportunity is that the role of the Big Bash is to grow the game of cricket, and that means everywhere. Not just in Hobart or in Burnie or Launceston, it's wherever we can grow it. So, by taking a game to an area which isn't a particularly strong cricket area and engaging indigenous youth, hopefully we can bring the next Dan Christian or the next D'Arcy Short on their journey and they'll be playing for us in BBL|20.
So I think those opportunities far outweigh playing two home matches in Hobart within four days.
Q) We don't have much international cricket content anymore, Nick, and we complain about it sometimes I guess. Why take a game away when we cry out for high level cricket here?
NC: I don't think it's a matter of taking a game away. The average number of games that our fans attend is two, whether we had four or seven home matches. So, fans are effectively choosing which games they go to rather than going to more games. Statistically, we're not taking a game away and there's still lots of opportunity.
I think if you want to watch the Tigers & Hurricanes play, and that's men and women, I think there's about 40 days of elite level cricket this summer and that's without counting international matches.
For a market of our size, and for what we contribute to the Australian cricket landscape, we're very well serviced by cricket content and as a cricket fan it's an exciting opportunity.
Q) Is the agreement to play a home game in the Northern Territory long term?
NC: It's a one-year agreement with the option to extend for two more years after this season. For both parties, this is an opportunity to see how 'it' goes, not just from a commercial perspective but also operationally.
Q) The Strikers were due to play a game there last year and it was cancelled due to the state of the surface. Are you confident its improved and will you be keeping an eye on it moving forward?
NC: Absolutely we are, and we will be. We'll be playing an active role in ensuring the surface is First-Class standard. We can't leave it to chance. We have high expectations from a high performance perspective that we can't be disadvantaged, it needs to be a wicket and an outfield that is the same as Blundstone Arena.
Q) Is anymore than seven home games becoming too much for a Tasmanian team?
NC: It becomes challenging, absolutely, across six to eight weeks.If the season went for six months then I'd say no. People have limited resources in terms of their entertainment budgets so going back to the well six or seven times in a short time is challenging.
When the season did expand to seven matches, there was a thought that the seventh game would need to be played somewhere else but only if the opportunity was right and only if it made sense strategically.
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