For the first time, viewers will get the chance to listen in to the team huddles during Saturday's Big Bash Melbourne derby.
For the first time, viewers will get the chance to listen in to the team huddles during Saturday's Big Bash Melbourne derby.

Corruption cops allow microphone in Big Bash team huddles

CRICKET Australia's anti-corruption police have granted Fox Sports permission to enter into the secret world of Big Bash League team huddles despite initial concerns over integrity breaches.

The BBL's introduction of "tactical time-outs" this season has been heavily criticised in some quarters on social media over the early weeks of the competition, with viewers bemused at the periods of tedious dead air.

However, the time-out concept will take on an entirely new dimension on Saturday for the Melbourne derby, with CA readjusting its strict anti-corruption laws to allow Fox Cricket to put a microphone in the tactical conversations out in the middle.

The trendsetting NBA allow microphones in team huddles to give fans insight into coaching tactics, and now the BBL promises to break new ground for cricket coverage.

The green light has been given for the microphone to be trialled for the Melbourne derby, which is an exclusive Fox Cricket game, and if it goes off without a hitch then Fox and Channel 7 will put microphones in the huddles for the rest of the season.

Cricket Australia integrity chief Sean Carroll makes no apologies for his strict enforcement of anti-corruption laws, with scary amounts of money being bet on Big Bash matches from illegal overseas rings in the subcontinent.

Currently, coaches such as Adam Voges (left) are given the chance to provide feedback to their batsmen. Picture: Getty
Currently, coaches such as Adam Voges (left) are given the chance to provide feedback to their batsmen. Picture: Getty

The general manager of Fox Cricket, Matt Weiss, has praised CA for making an important fan-centric concession, which he believes will breathe new life into the viewer experience for BBL matches.

"Spot fixing and betting is a real problem, but I don't think we can be defeated by that," Weiss said.

"We've got to try and push through that and work out what we can do and this is a really good place we've got to in this situation.

"The high-performance guys have worked really closely with Sean Carroll and his integrity team and Sean's now satisfied that to have a live microphone in there will be fine.

Fox Cricket’s Matt Weiss has praised Cricket Australia for their role in opening things up for fans. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Fox Cricket’s Matt Weiss has praised Cricket Australia for their role in opening things up for fans. Picture: Jonathan Ng

"For the first time, cricket fans will get to hear the coach addressing the players, basically. So we'll run out a boom mic. And we can go to either the batsmen, or the fielding team, whichever one we choose and listen in for the 90 seconds.

"We've got cameras that can zoom in on them. Obviously there was integrity issues at the start and we've worked through that really closely with Cricket Australia and they've been terrific at looking at it to make sure we get the best for the fans. I think it will be a great outcome for the BBL."

Adam Gilchrist and Mike Hussey will leave the Sydney Test on day two to fly down to Melbourne for the innovative first.

Fox Sports’ Adam Gilchrist will fly down to commentate the game in which the new concept will be trialled. Picture: AAP
Fox Sports’ Adam Gilchrist will fly down to commentate the game in which the new concept will be trialled. Picture: AAP

While Channel 7 have been able to take ad-breaks during the 90-second tactical time-outs, Fox had been forced to tap dance around the intervals, which were filled with too much dead air for their liking.

When Cricket Australia had originally proposed the concept early last year, Fox made it clear they were supportive, provided it doubled as content. It's taken a few weeks, but the network has finally got its wish.

"Cricket Australia have been very progressive with the access they've provided this summer," Weiss said.

"No innovations are easy and CA should be applauded. In the NBA they often put a microphone into the time-out huddle and sometimes you'll see the board explaining what play they're going to run with. These are the sort of things cricket has to grasp.

"The NFL have done it in the past. You can hear Lewis Hamilton on his race radio saying, 'I'm going to have to slow down now because I'm running out of petrol.'

"It's really good for cricket fans that we start looking at that."

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