Cricket Tasmania CEO Nick Cummins gives his open and honest views on Cricket Australia’s Home International Fixture release, the future of Test matches in Hobart, and what the exciting expansion of the Big Bash League means for both Hobart and Launceston. A ‘must read’ for all Tassie cricket fans…
What’s your view of Tasmania’s International Cricket fixture?
We’re very excited to say that we’ll be having South Africa come to play against Australia at Blundstone Arena on Sunday the 11th of November in 2018.
Given the recent history between those two countries I think it’s going to be a pretty spicy affair and will be a fantastic spectacle.
Last time South Africa were here (in Hobart) it probably wasn’t as memorable and I’m sure the Australian team will be keen to square the ledger.
Given that it’s so early in the international season, it also sets up what’s going to be a pretty big summer of cricket in Hobart and indeed Launceston with the Big Bash.
So we’re very excited about it and really looking forward to South Africa coming to Australia.
There will be 24 International Cricket matches across next summer and Tasmania has got one of them. Is that a fair return?
I think probably the area where we are a little bit disappointed is we’d love to have the Australian women’s team come here.
We’ve missed out the last few years and there’s a growing women’s cricket presence in this State and we’d love to see the Australian women’s team come here to visually promote that pathway.
From the men’s perspective, there are a lot more venues coming online – obviously Manuka Oval will be hosting a Test and Metricon Stadium as well on the Gold Coast is getting its first international match.
So we understand that we’re part of a broader cricket ‘ecosystem’ now I suppose and we have to play our part.
What did you request from Cricket Australia?
We knew that we wouldn’t get a Test match simply because we’d switched with Canberra when we had South Africa a couple of years ago.
We were hoping for an ODI – our market enjoys ODIs and we had a T20 International last year.
So we were hoping that we would get an ODI against one of the top three countries, so we’re delighted to get South Africa.
Are we guaranteed a Test match next summer?
No we’re not – not at this stage – Cricket Australia is still working through their future tours program but as with all the future tours looking forward there may only be four or five Tests every year in Australia.
So it will probably be harder for Hobart to get Tests not easier going forward but there’s also more international content coming up in other shorter formats.
Are you resigned to the fact that Test cricket may not be played in Hobart for the next couple of years, so you’re just focussing on T20 Internationals and ODIs?
Not at all. Our members are still Test cricket enthusiasts – that’s probably their number one preferred format, so while we are here as a Cricket Association we will always be pushing for Test cricket every year.
Clearly it’s five days of cricket rather than one day of cricket and we’ve got a lot of passionate members who love that format – as we do members with other formats as well, so we’ll continue to fight for Test cricket at Blundstone Arena for as long as we can.
Does Cricket Australia have a ranking order for Test venues in this country?
Definitely, in terms of preference for fixturing, Cricket Australia made it very clear that they’ll go to the largest population centres with the largest capacity venues – so broadly Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth - now that Perth has their new stadium and then I guess Brisbane.
So we’re always going to be up against it when we’re competing against those venues.
So Canberra’s Manuka Oval is probably our number one competitor at the moment considering its similar market size and similar stadium size.
So we have to understand and we do understand that we’re probably not going to get a Boxing Day Test or a New Year’s Test.
With all things being equal, if there’s a situation that presented itself that provided that opportunity then maybe, but we have to be realistic.
There seems to be a lot more competition these days from other ‘boutique’ stadiums around the country?
Geelong’s new stadium and the Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium are definitely competitors of ours – probably not for Test cricket though. I’m of the firm belief that we have the better playing surface and the better wicket and the recent Sheffield Shield season showed that.
And hosting five days of cricket with 90 overs a day is a very different proposition to hosting a T20 International, but in those other shorter formats those newer improved venues are competitors.
So we need to make sure first and foremost that we’re promoting Tasmanian cricket.
We’ve got a lot more Test captains that have come from Tasmania than Geelong or the Gold Coast have and long may that continue.
But we still need to be continually promoting ourselves – it’s not a right – we have to earn it.
What do you think Tasmanian cricket fans’ reaction might be to this Home International Fixture?
Well my most recent experience coming from New South Wales where we would have up to 10 days of International Cricket, is that it’s different to go to a market where there aren’t as many days.
Our Tasmanian fans came out and supported the T20 International last season in good numbers so I would expect them to do the same this upcoming season and ultimately it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.
If our fans continue to get behind International Cricket, then that sends a message to Australian Cricket to continue to send more games our way, so I would expect we will have a big crowd (for the November ODI).
Does Tasmanian Cricket need to do anything infrastructure-wise to guarantee more International Cricket in the future?
I think the Ponting Stand that was finished for the 2015 World Cup has taken the venue to a standard where it can host major tournaments and obviously we’ve got the T20 World Cup coming up as well in 2020.
So from that perspective, I don’t think structurally we need any more investment in the immediate future.
I think we could do with a scoreboard upgrade which we will look at for the T20 World Cup – certainly not for this year.
But Blundstone Arena is a fantastic venue for International Cricket with great sight-lines and you’re right in the action.
You’ve got a hill which is one of the few venues that still has that, which provides its own atmosphere.
I think it’s a fantastic venue for International Cricket and will continue to be so.
You are visiting Launceston today (Monday 30 April), is that Big Bash related?
Yes we are meeting with the Launceston Council to talk about the Big Bash for this season and also talking to some of the delegation who are organising the Greater Northern Team for the Cricket Tasmania Premier League for next summer.
Are you aiming for a five-two split for Hurricanes BBL Big Bash Home Games for next season between Hobart and Launceston?
Yes definitely. We will see how that meeting goes with the Launceston Council.
But as you know, that first game up in Launceston against the Sydney Thunder was a fantastic spectacle and we think the expansion to a full home and away season (from 10 to 14 games per club) provides the opportunity to have another home game in our northern market.
So ideally a ‘five-two’ home game split between Hobart – Launceston is probably our preference at this stage.
Are you going to push for any marquee Big Bash home games?
Yes we are. We are working with Cricket Australia at the moment about a marquee day which is something that we want to own regularly from now in perpetuity.
So yes we are, with more detail to follow about what that is. But it will be something really special for Hobart – not Christmas Day though.
Tell us more about the expanded home and away Big Bash season?
The fixture is still being worked on and changing all the time.
It’s going to start about the same time, although I think they could start it a few days earlier, but it will start around that 17th of December or thereabouts, and it will now go into about mid-February so that adds a few days on at the end.
But I think there will be a few more game starts maybe in the East Coast and then there’s one on the West Coast or similar, and maybe some more day games as well which aren’t great for TV in terms of numbers.
But certainly looking at the behaviour of crowds in Tasmania, or in Hobart particularly, people really come out in force and support those day games.
So that’s an interesting one for us. Do we want a million people watching us on TV but 12,000 in the stands OR 16,000 in the stands but 600,000 people watching us on TV?
I’m not quite sure what the solution is – it’s probably a mix, but I think as the fixture becomes more congested, they’ll need to have more multi-day games.
And now with Seven and Fox Sports broadcasting cricket, I think they’ve got a lot more flexibility to do that as well.