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Big Bash League: Sydney Thunder will consider playing Christmas Day match

Festive front-runners: Sydney Thunder could play on Christmas Day in future years. Photo: Mark MetcalfeSydney Thunder general manager Nick Cummins is “open” to talking to Cricket about opening new ground in domestic sport by playing a Big Bash League match on Christmas Day.
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Fairfax Media understands CA is toying with staging such a match in the future, although plans are only at an embryonic stage.

It is a long way from committing to the idea, because it still needs to work through the pros and cons of playing on a day traditionally set aside for families to spend time together.

The NBA is one of the world’s few major sporting bodies that does not rest on Christmas Day, scheduling five games. It is not half-hearted either, organising marquee match-ups and permitting teams to wear specially designed uniforms for the occasion.

This year’s NBA Christmas Day schedule includes the Los Angeles Clippers playing cross-town rivals the Lakers. As with the other four games, the derby will be played in front of a sellout crowd and command massive television ratings.

On the surface there is no reason why a BBL match could not be a success, and the Thunder – whose catchment area, Sydney’s western suburbs, includes a large population who follow religions other than Christianity – could expect to be a contender to host the match.

Cummins, who has been praised for the way he has encouraged the many ethnic communities in the region to embrace the Thunder, said he was “open” to discussing the concept with CA, before stressing there would be a few “issues” to work through.

“Of course we would consider it, but we’d need to gauge whether there is an appetite among our fans for a Christmas Day game,” he said. “We have some fans who aren’t Christians and Christmas Day isn’t as big a deal to them as it is for others.

“However, we have a lot of fans who are [Christian], and obviously players who are as well, so we would need to consider that.”

A lot of work would be needed to get a Christmas Day match up and running.

The n Cricketers’ Association would have to be involved in negotiations with the governing body, while Network Ten, which broadcasts the BBL, would also need to commit.

However, the promise of lucrative ratings on a day that is “dead” TV-wise would be tempting, while such a game would also allow cricket to gain an even greater foothold in Sydney’s non-traditional cricket communities.

As it stands, the away team in the BBL’s Boxing Day match this year – the Brisbane Heat play in Perth – travels on Christmas Day.

“You would need to look at every angle,” said Cummins. “Certainly it’s something we would consider, and after that we would need to consult with our supporter-base to see whether or not they were keen for the game.”

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