The Power Surge, the Bash Boost and the X-Factor were introduced and the rule changes all anyone could talk about as the tenth edition Big Bash League got underway. It led to a lot of criticism, debate, scepticism and controversy among fans, players and media experts. Over the course of the BBL, the three new rules played a massive role in deciding the outcome of several matches. And while they may not have won everyone over just yet, it is fair to say that in the end the rules achieved exactly what Cricket Australia had set out to do.
So how did the three rules changes alter the course of the BBL this season?
The X-Factor did not earn too many admirers when the rules were announced, and its unlikely that too many people would have changed their minds about it over the course of the tournament. The Brisbane Heat made the most use of the rule, swapping out players on seven occasions. While the Perth Scorchers only used it once, and that too as a result of an injury to Mitchell Marsh.
The rule did work to the teams’ favour will on a few occasions, like when Chris Lynn came off the bench and scored a vital cameo to help the Heat defeat the Sydney Thunder. Power hitter Tim David also made a big impact after being subbed in by the Hobart Hurricanes. Several bowling teams used the rule to swap out pace bowlers after having them bowl the first over of the game. Young Heat gun Xavier Bartlett was the most subbed out player, making way for veteran pacer Morne Morkel three times. That will certainly not have done his confidence a whole lot of good. Hopefully, he will get more chances next season.
The Power Surge
The Power Surge was arguably the most popular rule of the three, and it made a big impact on the tournament. The rule allowed batting teams to take a floating power play of two overs any time after the 10th over.
Teams used different strategies for the Power Surge, and it often made for fascinating cricket in the often rather slow middle-overs. While many thought before the game that it would tilt the game even more in the batsmen’s favour, that did not turn out to be the case. The likes of Peter Siddle, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa and Imad Wasim especially enjoyed success during the Power Surge overs. Siddle was especially dominant, picking up eight wickets at an economy rate of just 7.3. While Jhye Richardson was the leading wicket taker, with nine scalps to his name.
That’s not to say that batting teams weren’t able to use the rule to their advantage. The Sydney Thunder, the Perth Scorchers and the Sydney Sixers were three of the best teams when it came to batting during the Power Surge. And it is no surprise that they finished top of the charts in the BBL table. The Thunder scored at a run rate of 12.64, while the Scorchers finished with a run rate of 12.30 during the Power Surge. Ben Cutting, Jimmy Peirson, Jordan Silk and Ashton Turner were four of the most prolific batsmen during the Surge period. And their contributions certainly made a difference, as their teams qualified for the play-offs.
Having the Power Surge meant more big hits, wickets, drama and several game changing moments during the middle-overs period.
The Bash Boost
The Bash Boost also proved to be a big success and made a big difference in what was a closely fought BBL. The Sydney Sixers earned nine Bash Boost points, more than any other team in the BBL. It played a key role in helping them finish top of the standings, en-route to winning the title. The rule also helped the Perth Scorchers finish second ahead of the Sydney Thunder, which ultimately helped them qualify fr the final.
The biggest winners of the Bash Boost rule were undoubtedly the Brisbane Heat, who qualified for the play-offs despite finishing with the same number of wins as the Adelaide Strikers and the Hobart Hurricanes, with an inferior net run rate. The Heat earned eight Bash Boost points, helping them finish ahead of their rivals in the play-off race.
There were matches in which the Bash Boost was considered to be an afterthought by teams. But had the Hobart Hurricanes paid a bit more attention in their game against the Melbourne Stars, they would have made the play-offs. The ‘Canes needed just eight runs off the tenth over to claim the extra point. But they did not take the target on, and it ended up being a costly dropped point.
The rule also gained a fair bit of criticism when the Melbourne Renegades won a Bash Boost point despite even failing to cross the 100-run mark and losing the game by 96 runs.
The three new BBL rules split opinion and will continue to do so for as long they are around. The X-Factor especially will need a bit of tweaking ahead of next season, and those in charge will no doubt look to review that in the coming months. But the Power Surge is here to stay, and don’t be surprised if T20 leagues across the world look to incorporate it into their tournaments.