Can we please do away with the sudden death 1st v 4th semis?
All too often we see the best team for the season suffer an untimely hiccup that writes off their year. This is most glaring in T20 cricket, where a few good overs can change the course of a game. This year, we saw the top-two teams in both the respective men and women’s competitions bow out in sudden death semis.
Melbourne Stars were flawless in all 8 round-robin games but all that counted for just a home final and an eventual loss to Hobart Hurricanes. In the women’s domestic competition the gulf between undefeated NSW Breakers and eventual finalists ACT Meteors was further pronounced. ACT won less than half their regular season fixtures but made the short trip to Sydney to knock off the minor premiers.
While both of the respective fourth-placed teams went on to lose the grand final against their higher-ranked opponents at the WACA on Friday, the whole procedure makes for a farcical end to a long season. This quick-and-easy finale is out of place in this age of professional players, salary caps, pristine venues and sport scientists.
Even in the suburban and country leagues, where each ground has an idiosyncratic feature a home team can exploit and carbo-loading is eating pasta the night before, the two-week finals are unfair. They only survive because, in leagues where participation is priority, a longer final series would rob the regular season of a full-round’s match.
Two-week finals are unacceptable in any self-respecting professional league. In its post-season review, Cricket Australia needs to admit its mistake and make improvements for the 2014/15 season.