8:49 AM IST
Daniel BrettigAssistant editor, ESPNcricinfo
- Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel’s chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth – a rare Australian victory that summer.
Cricketing radical Trent Woodhill has quit as Melbourne Stars list manager to help Cricket Australia chart a way forward for the Big Bash League, in a mirror of his role advising the ECB on the launch of The Hundred.
In a role assisting the head of the BBL, Alistair Dobson, with “global player acquisition” and the broader shape of the league, Woodhill will bring his outspokenness and livewire ideas to a competition that is desperately grasping to trend up again after losing crowds and broadcast ratings in the two seasons since it was expanded to a full home and away league in 2018.
There are few projects considered more vital to Australian cricket than finding a way to get the BBL growing once more, after its extravagant build from modest origins in 2011 saw the tournament grow in value to be worth about half of CA’s A$1.18 billion broadcast rights deal with Foxtel and Seven a little over two years ago.
Curiously, Woodhill has relinquished his Stars BBL role but will still work as head coach of the Stars’ WBBL team, with CA claiming that his new advisory position will deal exclusively with the men’s competition.
“I’m grateful to the Melbourne Stars for their understanding in this decision and I’d like to thank Cricket Australia for giving me this great opportunity,” Woodhill said. “It’s clear that it would not be appropriate to hold a List Manager role while working more broadly on player acquisition with the league.
“I will continue in my coaching role with the WBBL side, which is something I’m really looking forward to. With the recent signing of Australian captain Meg Lanning, we’re putting the pieces together to deliver a competitive squad for this year’s tournament.”
The announcement of Woodhill’s BBL role followed a raft of redundancies across CA departments in late June, on the trail of more than 150 jobs being cut across the state associations.
“Trent is a highly respected figure in both Australian cricket and across the world. We see him as an important contributor to the League’s ongoing focus on innovation in and around the game,” Dobson said. “Despite the uncertainties surrounding the current Covid-19 situation, we are committed to bringing the best available T20 players to Australia for BBL 10. Similarly, our commitment to innovation, a core part of the BBL DNA, has only been strengthened. We see Trent as a key driver of this fan-first agenda.”
Woodhill’s views on the game and how it should evolve go a long way beyond the mooted changes to this season’s competition, including an overseas player draft and numerous in-game tweaks such as: bonus points available to teams for their progress at the 10-over point of an innings, substitutions also allowed within that same period, powerplay split between the first four overs of the innings and two overs floating elsewhere, free-hits for the bowling of wides, and the addition of extra breaks for advertisements and player strategy after every five overs.
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He has held a long list of roles in domestic, international and T20 cricket around the world, and had played a large part in helping the ECB formulate its plans for The Hundred, which has been pushed back by a year due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Woodhill’s position at the Melbourne Stars, over a period in which the club has contended consistently but never won the BBL, has increasingly seen his views being given an audience by CA, particularly after Dobson was poached from the AFL as the new head of the BBL last year.
Two of Woodhill’s most enduring relationships as a coach have been with David Warner and Steven Smith, who have worked with him since they first crossed paths in New South Wales more than a decade ago.
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