The KFC Big Bash League is celebrating its 10th anniversary this season. Each season, each franchise is home to some of the best players in the world but also some of the biggest cult heroes of the sport.
Who are they? and how have they contributed to making the BBL what it is today?
To truly connect with their target audience, former Big Bash League (BBL) chief Mike McKenna said in 2011 that the competition would need to focus on off-field entertainment as much as a high-quality cricket.
That would be a point-of-difference on its competitors and entrench the BBL- and cricket more widely- into the fabric of an Australian summer.
Kids would be more drawn to the action-packed fun of fireworks, flame throwers, music, bucket-heads, boomsticks, and supersized posters even if they were not fans of the game itself immediately.
Associating cricket with that packaged experience saw cricket rise in popularity by 8.5% in 2015/16 becoming Australia’s number one participation sport.
Equally, 24% of the participants that season were females.
The correlation with that year being the BBL’s climax, with average attendances just under 30 000 per game, shows participation can be attributed to the success of the competition.
A product that players contribute to off-field- as well as on.
Clinics, Player appearances, Signing sessions, and on-field microphones have been able to create an identity for themselves which resonates with fans.
Diverse cultures have been able to develop an attachment with international players, giving the League a new and growing legion of fans.
The Nepalese have been drawn to legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane who has been an ambassador for cricket in Nepal, showing the pathway to future generations.
Rashid Khan, Mohammed Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Zahir Khan have galvanized the Afghan cricket community, using the BBL to develop thier games along with the rise of Cricket in Afghanistan.
Englishmen Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright, and Andrew Flintoff have led the charge of Englishmen on the player mic’s, creating a virtual relationship with kids nationwide.
Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell are just two of several West Indians to bring some of thier calypso flare down under, While Lasith Malinga, Kumar Sangakarra, and Mahela Jayawardene have provided Sri Lankan flavor.
Even at the State level, Club cricketers, often with full-time jobs are getting thier opportunities and are being beamed into Aussie living rooms, playing alongside some of the world’s best.
Some have even developed cult-hero status among fans.
Below is a list of some such non-Hollywood cricketers who have become recognizable faces and names through the BBL.
Tim Ludeman: To complement his tidy wicketkeeping and power at the top of the order, Ludeman earns his spot as one of the league and Renegades cult figures due to his performances on the player mic. Impeccably impersonated a range of icons from Richie Benaud to David Attenborough to the Gingerbread man during matches and commentated while on-field, resonating with fans of all ages.
A down-to-earth larrikin from Warrnambool, the hard-hitting ex- Striker, and Renegade was a great ambassador for the BBLthrough his engagement with kids at clinics and after matches.
Jordan Silk: Since starting with the Sixers in BBL| 03, he’s brought fireworks in the field. dubbed by Ricky Ponting as one of the best fieldsmen in Australia and as the years go on, Silk continues to enhance his reputation in the outfield.
AFL fans would see him as the Jeremy Howe of cricket, soccer fans would liken him to Mark Schwarzer while kids would see him as the cause for Buckethead moments. Given the essence of fielding in the BBL even older viewers have a great sense of appreciation as he lays claim to being the greatest fielder in the tournament’s history. As a batter, he is reliable in the middle order and after a leaner couple of seasons by strike rate, BBL| 10 has seen some of his most powerful hittings yet.
Seb Gotch: Wicketkeeper-batsman Seb Gotch now 27, has been on the edge of selection for many years without nailing down a spot consistently. But his cheek, quirks, and explosiveness have endeared him to Melbourne Stars and BBL fans across the board.
As a wicketkeeper, his short sleeves buck the usual fashion choice for those behind the stumps, a feature of his unashamedly quirky personality. During Kevin Pietersen’s stint, Gotch’s status was heightened as he became the English star’s little protégé and ‘best mate’. His effervescence behind the stumps is also evident from his chatter through stump mic- probably at the ire of opposition batsmen.
Brad Hogg: One of Western Australia’s favorite sons, Brad Hogg got fierce support from his home crowd due to his infectiously affable personality. One of the original roll calls of legends who played back in the first edition of the competition, Hogg continued to wind back the clock, playing and performing well into his 40s.
The former Australian left-arm chinaman backed it up with performance, his tweakers consistently proving difficult to predict netting his wickets at an economy rate of 6.63.
His tongue wagging antics and energetic celebrations added to his reputation and while he was jovially said to be an annoying teammate, Hogg always engaged with and laughed along with The Furnace crowd.
Ben Rohrer: Arriving at the Renegades on the fringes of his state team, The middle-order batsman who became so popular he was the subject of his own fan club. “The Benny Rohrer Fan Club” who took up residency in the bleachers of Docklands Stadium.
The Renegades crowd took a liking to Rohrer’s stroke play and intent in the middle and back end of the innings. Rewarded with a solitary Australian T20 Cap following his form in BBL 02, scoring 295 runs across the competition at the highest strike rate of the top 20 scorers of that edition of the competition.
Clive Rose: The right arm off-spinner with glasses and the funky hairstyles has been one that Hurricanes fans have become attached to over the years he played in the Big Bash. Clive Rose’s story of a hard-working Melbourne club cricketer earning a state contract and then a BBL career is just one of the remarkable stories and opportunities the BBL has provided many cricketers across the country.
Chris Green: Green has developed his game and craft so much through the Thunder since BBL| 04, he is now a sought after T20 commodity around the world. His darting, accurate off-spinners, and hitting power in the lower order make him an attractive option for franchises. Green made history by signing the longest ever contract in BBL history which was seen as significant from a player who has yet to represent his country.
Before an untimely suspension, Had hardly missed a game since his debut, so the absence devastated lime green fans, especially youngsters as his infectious personality made his photo and signature much sought after.
Chris Lynn: Doesn’t meet the ‘Non-Hollywood’ criteria but you can’t have cult heroes of the BBL list without “Lynnsanity” given his standing in the competition.
He is one of the faces of the BBL. The hard striking he brings epitomizes the excitement the competition intended to bring people through the gates to watch it rain sixes. His loyalty to the Heat as a foundation member and bromance with ‘Bash brother’ Brendon McCullum have further heightened his credentials as one of Brisbane’s favorite sons.
When Lynnsanity is on, you just simply make sure you’re watching.