Australia captain Steve Smith is sure this month’s one-day series against England can hold its own against the allure of the Big Bash.
Until recently it would have been hard to imagine a contest between the old rivals playing second fiddle to any other cricketing contest, but Australia’s Twenty20 competition has been a runaway success.
With a free-to-air television deal, colourful brands and a new breed of fans flocking to see their local franchises, the BBL is becoming a cultural phenomenon Down Under.
Such is the dramatic impact it has had, Smith was asked on the eve of Sunday’s first ODI in Melbourne whether the international side felt overshadowed by their own domestic tournament.
“Not from the players’ point of view, no,” he said.
“Everyone does everything they can to play for Australia or England. That’s your ultimate – to play for your country. The Big Bash has been a great success and draws plenty of crowds but I hope the one-day set-up does the same.
“I think we’ll see some very entertaining cricket and there’s some good talent on show.”
Whether Australia vice-captain David Warner will be one of the attractions at the MCG is uncertain.
He has been struggling with a sickness bug for the past 48 hours, just as England’s Joe Root recovers from a similar problem, and was unable to take an active part in training.
Smith was optimistic about his participation but stopped short of certainty.
“I think he’s okay, but he was having a bit of a gastro issue,” he said. “He turned up and walked the oval a few times, but he said he’ll be fine so I don’t think there’ll be any trouble.”
Smith will be hoping to continue his dominance over the tourists after feasting on 687 runs at an average of 137.40 during the Ashes.
The make-up of the English attack is different, with Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid all arriving to try their luck.
Asked if they might enjoy better results than their Test colleagues, he said: “I hope not. I’ve played a lot against those guys in the Champions Trophy, in series in England and here too.
“But it’s a different line-up and each of the guys in their team have a different set of skills. They’re good one-day bowlers and a good one-day outfit so it’s a good challenge.”
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