Kevin Pietersen hits out for the Melbourne Stars.
Kevin Pietersen hits out for the Melbourne Stars. DAVID MOIR

Big Bash backlash: Players dismiss plans to expand

CRICKET: Kevin Pietersen has joined a growing number of high-profile players warning Cricket Australia against lengthening next season's Big Bash tournament.

There is speculation that next summer the league will expand to a full home-and-away series of 14 games per club to launch the first year of a new broadcast rights deal.

A bidding war is expected to erupt with the $20 million Network Ten pays per season likely to triple.

But crowds and TV ratings have dropped this season and there has been a rising number of one-sided matches and dead-rubbers.

Pietersen said overseas stars couldn't afford to migrate to Australia for any longer.

"I worry about the expansion of the league,” Pietersen said.

"I worry from an overseas player's perspective. I worry about it from an overseas coaching perspective.

Brisbane Heat assistant coach Shane Bond (left) and coach Daniel Vettori (right) are seen during a training session at the Gabba in Brisbane, Tuesday, December 19, 2017. The Brisbane Heat will play their opening game of the Big Bash League (BBL) against the Melbourne Stars at the Gabba on Wednesday, December 20 in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Darren England) NO ARCHIVING
Brisbane Heat coach Daniel Vettori (right) and assistant Shane Bond watch on at training. DARREN ENGLAND

"Can you afford to spend two and a half months as a coach in Australia? I'm not so sure.

"I love the Big Bash for what it is now, in the school holidays.”

Four clubs employ overseas coaches; Pietersen's Stars (Stephen Fleming, New Zealand), Brisbane Heat (Dan Vettori, New Zealand), Hobart Hurricanes (Gary Kirsten, South Africa) and Sydney Thunder (Paddy Upton, South Africa).

Stars captain John Hastings and Renegades veteran Brad Hodge urged Cricket Australia to retain the 10-match format used this summer.

"If you're in administration you want the extra games, TV rights and so forth,” Hodge said.

"But as a player this could be right. I've played a lot of Twenty20 around the world and generally you feel it's always a week too long, no matter how many games there are.

Brad Hodge of the Melbourne Renegades loses his earpiece as he cuts during the BBL game between Melbourne Renegades and Brisbane Heat at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, Saturday, December 23, 2017. (AAP Image/ Hamish Blair) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Renegades batsman Brad Hodge has urged caution with expansion plans. Hamish Blair

"If you stretch it out I think the overseas playing group will be tested as well. If you're starting to ask players to come for two or three months it'll test the quality of players.

"There's a few things to nut out before you go down that path.”

Hastings said the dip in interest this season was enough evidence to rule out expansion.

"Keeping it at 10 games is probably the way to go for now and just really building up that fan base and building up that viewership again over the next few years,” Hastings said.

"The TV rights deal is up next year, so it'll be interesting to see what happens with that. If they want more games then we'll have to go down that path.”

Dwayne Bravo taking a catch to dismiss Travis Head during the Big Bash League match 32 between the  Melbourne Renegades v Adelaide Strikers at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough) NO ARCHIVING EDITORIAL USE ONLY, IMAGES TO BE USED FOR NEWS REPORTING PURPOSES ONLY, NO COMMERCIAL USE WHATSOEVER, NO USE IN BOOKS WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM AAP
Dwayne Bravo is critical of plans to expand the BBL. MAL FAIRCLOUGH

Renegades import Dwayne Bravo labelled the scheduling "crazy” as his team was lumped with a 10-day break between matches.

"If I was to change anything it's too long,” Bravo told the Herald Sun.

"You're playing (10) games and staying six or seven weeks.”

If Cricket Australia fixtures a full home-and-away season next summer that would see an extra 24 matches added in two years.

But Stars chief executive Clint Cooper backed a 14-round home-and-away season, saying that would create a fairer competition.