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IPL vs Big Bash League | Which is the Best T20 League in the world?

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IPL vs Big Bash League | Which is the Best T20 League in the world?

The glitz, the glamour, the Bollywood stars, the cheerleaders and the after-match parties took the nation by storm. The people were invested in the T20 format like never before. In a way, the timing of the 2007 T20 World Cup win proved to be the trampoline that the IPL needed.

Riding on India’s T20 success, adding few slices of glamour, millions of dollars with a tinge of cricket to top it all up and the BCCI had the perfect recipe for creating a, multi-billion dollar, money-making juggernaut.

As the world was still in awe of the flamboyance and extravagance of the IPL, over in the land of the Kangaroos, Australia started their own version of T20 franchise league called the Big Bash League. But the BBL, run by Cricket Australia, had stark differences to the IPL. It was a ‘family friendly’ tournament focused on promoting cricket to kids and families both on TV and on the grounds. It had no movie stars involved and no ‘drunk parties’ following the matches. Add to this, affordable ticket prices and the fact that teams actually picked social causes to endorse during the event, made it even more likeable. 

While the IPL came off as a ‘larger than life’ sporting spectacle which provided ‘Cricketainment’ to the fans, the Big Bash League aimed to turn Cricket into Australia’s favourite sport. Although the BBL is just five seasons old, as compared to the eight editions completed by the IPL, the question arises - has the BBL already surpassed and even been better than the Indian Premier League?

The Technological innovations –

The technology used in the BBL is groundbreaking. Different camera angles, the cameras on helmets and umpires, the Australian-designed Zing Wicket System, which has a sensor in the bails that determines within one-thousandth of a second when the wicket is broken, the players being mic’d up during batting and fielding, the 3-dimensional hologram used to call the field setting by commentators and many such innovations are things no cricket fan would have even imagined a decade ago.

Although the IPL has tried to match the BBL step for step and eventually picked up most of these technological innovations, it was the Big Bash League which pioneered these innovations in Cricket.

As a fan, knowing what a player is thinking, or knowing what he wants to do on the next ball, hearing them speak live is what brings a whole new dimension to the game. One example of this was when  Kevin Pietersen was mic’d up and wished for Chris Gayle to hit one up in the air towards him. As it turns out, Santa Claus was in the vicinity because KP got his wish fulfilled on the very next ball as Chris Gayle did exactly that much to KP's delight.

Verdict -

Most, if not all, technological innovations seen at the IPL have been previously spotted at, and thus borrowed from, the Big Bash League and hence BBL wins this round easily!

Commentators –

IPL commentary team

Big Bash League commentary team

Not going to criticize one or glorify the other, but you have a look at those two sets of commentators for their respective leagues above and you realize why they say a picture speaks a thousand words.

Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Damien Fleming along with guest commentators like legendary West Indian Sir Vivian Richards, Mike ‘Mr.Cricket’ Hussey and the ever so controversial Kevin Pietersen – this is just a part of the BBL commentary line-up.

Adam Gilchrist once said, “We’re just like the viewers, we just happen to be sitting watching it live with a microphone instead of watching it on TV. Our reactions are exactly what’s going on at home in lounge rooms,” and his reaction after Glenn Maxwell’s brain freeze moment last season proves his point.

With all due respect to all the commentators at the IPL but no amount of Siddhuism and those classic Danny Morrison “Double ‘D’s and Double ‘R’s” come close to these reactions. With Morrison, Manjrekar and Shastri in the box, you more or less know what you're gonna get from the speakers of your idiot box. On the other hand, breaking down that fourth wall has been integral to BBL’s success with their commentators speaking the fans' mind to perfection.

Verdict -

As Danny Morrison would put it, the Double Bs and L win this head-to-head contest.

Ticket sales and TV Ratings

A crowd of 80,883 turned up at the MCG for the Melbourne derby between the Stars and Renegades this year, and Big Bash is now became the 9 most attended sports league in the world, while the IPL ranks 6. Not to take away anything from the popularity of the IPL, but having more teams, more matches and a three season lead over the Big Bash, it is only fitting that the Indian league ranks above its Aussie counterpart.

But the current graphs of the two leagues are on opposite slopes. On one end of the spectrum, the ninth edition of IPL has already been deemed to be suffering from low turnouts and low TV ratings just over a week into the tournament. On one the other, we have the Big Bash League experiencing a TV rating increase by 23 per cent from last year.

Even the Women’s Big Bash League that started this year [something that the IPL is yet to come up with] has helped the popularity of the league too as 38% of the fans of BBL are women. An overall increase of 19 per cent year-on-year in total viewers was noted this year with an average of 1 million people tuning in for each session in Australia, which is indeed very positive news for BBL.

Verdict –

While the IPL is still viewed more in terms of numbers and wins this round, the popularity of Big Bash is on the rise. In comparison, IPL is taking the downward route at present with their ratings falling. This could be a close contest in the future.

Quality of Cricket -

If we are indeed comparing two leagues then the graphics, the commentators, and the technical advancements, all become secondary to the standard of cricket on displayin the respective leagues. Eventually that is to decide if one league is better than the other from a neutral fan’s point of view. So let us rake up a few statistics and see which league produces the better brand of cricket.

The total number of matches considered for the following statistics are IPL : 530 matches and Big Bash League : 171 matches.

Total Runs -

The total number of runs scored in IPL is 1,54,328 which equates to around 291.28 runs/match as compared to a total of 43,804 runs scored in the Big Bash at an average of 256 runs/match.

Total Wickets –

As with the runs, the IPL leads the wickets tally as well with 10.2 wickets/match and a total of 5,455 wickets. The Big Bash has an average of 9.75 wickets/match with a total of 1668 wickets so far, which shows that overall, IPL produces more runs and wickets per match.

Total Extras –

The IPL has produced a total of 5304 extras with 10 extras/match being the average. Big Bash has a total of 940 extras at an average of 5.28 extras/match.

Total Centuries –

The IPL has a total of 35 hundreds so far with one hundred coming every 15.17 matches. TheBig Bash has a total of 10 hundreds with one century every 17.1 matches.

Fifties and Ducks –

Not much difference in the average number of fifties and ducks scored in the IPL and Big Bash as IPL has a total of 698 fifties with 1.31 fifties per match and Big Bash has 208 fifties at 1.21 fifties/match.

IPL and Big Bash each have 1 duck scored per match, on an average, with the IPL having a sum of 550 and Big Bash185 ducks.

Boundaries and sixes -

The IPL leads by a huge margin for the average number of boundaries scored per match. The IPL has seen a total of 14,885 fours at an average of 28.08 fours/match as compared to a total of 3539 fours at an average of 20.7 fours/match for Big Bash.

The sixes section is a bit closer with IPL having witnessed a total of 5221 sixes at an average of 9.8 sixes/match and the Big Bash having 1424 sixes at 8.32 sixes/match.

Verdict –

With more runs, wickets, boundaries and sixes per match, the IPL wins the contest in terms of the entertainment quotient and is definitely enjoyed more by the crowds. But then a lot of the big sixes and tthe massive totals are down to the fact that most Indian pitches are batsman friendly and the grounds are smaller compared to those in Australia. But the Big Bash is much more disciplined as compared to IPL when it comes to bowling. It is clear from the fact that the IPL witnesses 4.72 more extras per match as compared to that in Big Bash, which is a very strong pointer to their higher standards of bowling.

Overall, it is the closer contest between bat and ball in the BBL, where the bowlers aren't at the batsman's mercy more often than not, makes for better viewing from the purists' point of view. So the “less skewed” bat versus ball battle, on show in the Big Bash, makes it a greater content with compelling appeal to a fan, in terms of quality of cricket. That is where the Big Bash edges this comparison, despite providing arguably lesser entertainment but providing a good healthy contest between the bat and ball, something most cricket fans crave for.

Overall, IPL provides Cricketainment but Big Bash provides higher standards of cricket.

Global Appeal –

The IPL attracts talent from all over the world and almost every top cricketing nation has a representative at the IPL each season. The Big Bash on the other hand lacks its own home talent on most occasions as the Aussies usually have international commitments during the Big Bash resulting in big names missing a part, if not the entirety, of the Big Bash season.

Verdict –

There is almost a virtual window in the month of April-May for the IPL with hardly any international matches clashing with it. The Big Bash is yet to reach such heights so as to deserve a clearance of the international schedule to accommodate the tournament. That makes the IPL an undisputed winner in this aspect.

Controversies –

The final nail in the coffin for IPL would be the abundant controversies that have surrounded the league throughout its eight seasons. From Lalit Modi’s exit to N Srinivasan’s removal, from IPL franchises getting terminated to top teams getting suspended, from players being involved in spot-fixing to owners punished for betting, from players getting slapped to bats being hurled at opponents and much more – the IPL has experienced a wide variety of controversies.

Collectively, the IPL drama surely makes for a perfect Bollywood masala movie but when you consider the consequences of these controversies and its impact on the game of cricket, it even partly bogs down the positives which the IPL has presented. Not that the Big Bash is completely clean. It has had its own share of controversies along the way but none that would even remotely match the magnitude of troubles that the IPL have exhibited.

Verdict –

It is said, “No publicity is negative publicity,” but when the richest cricket board in the world hosts the grandest T20 league in the world, any negative publicity is bound to leave a permanent black mark. The IPL has the greater share of negatives and hence Big Bash League wins this for being lesser of the two evils.

Overall, the Big Bash League seems to be the nicer, more creative, disciplined, well behaved and the smarter of the two kids. The IPL on the other hand, is the better looking, taller, brash rich kid who everyone in school wants to be with, but whose name is always associated with some trouble. IPL's entertainment quotient is rivalled by BBL's quality of cricket. BBL's technological innovations are similarly rivalled by IPL's humungous crowds and the unearthing of gems, season after season. So you can love them or hate them but the fact remains that they are both here to stay and will keep serving some of the best T20 cricket at your doorstep every single year.

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