Bailey suggests BBL finals revamp

13 February 2019

Hobart veteran suggests IPL-style finals system as Hurricanes look to defy historic BBL trend

Hobart Hurricanes veteran George Bailey says there's merit in giving the top two teams a second chance come KFC BBL finals time as his side looks to buck the unwanted record of BBL table-toppers.

The Hurricanes finished two wins clear on top of the BBL|08 ladder to earn a home semi-final on Thursday night against the Melbourne Stars.

But there's little margin for error for the home side despite their dominant season, with the match a sudden-death game ahead of the final on Sunday.

The short history of the BBL has not been kind to teams that have finished top of the table at the end of the regular season; in the seven years of the competition, only once has the team that finished top lifted the trophy.

An even more ominous sign for the Hurricanes is the fact that five times in seven seasons, the ladder-leaders have lost their home semi-final, a defeat in the cut-throat knock-out stage knocking dominant sides out of the tournament even before the final.

Bailey said with the BBL expanded to 14 matches per side this season, it should follow the IPL format where the top two teams play off for a final berth in week one of the finals but get a second chance if they lose.

Top 10 sixes of BBL|08

"I think that the finals system in the IPL is quite good, where one and two play off," the 36-year-old said.

"Three plays four and the winner plays the loser of the first semi, giving them a double chance.

"The longer the tournament goes, the more you can mount an argument that to finish first or second should be rewarded."

However, Bailey added he understood high-stakes cricket was part of Twenty20's appeal.

"The team who plays two good games is going to end up winning the title, and that's well deserved as well."

BBL Finals: Where heroes are made

Head of the Big Bash League, Kim McConnie, said she welcomed the debate around the finals format and that all aspects of the competition would be discussed as part of the annual post-tournament review.

“As we do at the end of each season, we will review the feedback and experiences of fans, players and officials and assess what makes sense for the sustainability of our great game,” she said.

“There is clearly a great deal of varying opinion and interest in the game which is not unexpected, and in fact is useful in our deliberations over programming and strategy.”

The Stars have been hurt badly by the cut-throat BBL finals format in the past and will be seeking a measure of revenge against the Hurricanes on Thursday night.

In BBL|03, the Stars finished top having won all eight matches in the regular season but were knocked out when they lost the semi-final to the Canes, who had won just three games before the knockout stage.

"We'd gone 8-0 and Hobart got through on three-and-a-half wins and we got done ... that was a hard one to take for us," Stars skipper Glenn Maxwell recalled this week.

"It's a bit of the reverse this time with Hobart being so dominant this year ... they'll probably go in with a little added pressure.”

In BBL|02, a memorable century from Brisbane Heat’s Luke Pomersbach sunk the Melbourne Renegades at Docklands Stadium after the Gades had finished the regular season two games clear at the top of the table.

And in BBL|04 and BBL|05, the Adelaide Strikers finished top but were stunned at home in their semi-final showdowns, first by Nic Maddinson and then by an Usman Khawaja century that’s arguably one of the best innings in the tournament’s history.

Last season, it was the Hurricanes who defied their underdog status, finishing fourth and producing a brilliant performance in their semi-final to oust the top-of-the-table Perth Scorchers in the west.

Ashes 2019

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Hobart Hurricanes Men

George Bailey