How the BBL turned us into stars
I remember standing on the balcony of a teammate’s apartment in Perth, near the WACA, watching people leave the ground.
My Scorchers team had just won a match in the first season of the Big Bash League, back in 2012, and we were all getting ready to head out and celebrate.
The game had been finished for a while but there were still some stragglers leaving. I could hear them chanting Brad Hogg’s name.
‘Hoggy! Hoggy! Hoggy!’
That was the exact moment I realised the BBL was something special. All of a sudden it hit home that we were filling the WACA every week and everyone in Perth knew our names.
It was incredible to consider, because domestic cricketers very rarely got to enjoy that kind of support, let alone recognition, before the BBL came around.
Initially, we’d all been uncertain if the competition would be a success or not. Now, all of a sudden, we were stars. That was down to the marketing and production around the competition, as both the media and players embraced the challenge of promoting the BBL.
For the next two years while I was with the Scorchers, I really tried to soak in the atmosphere. We had a lot of success on the field, but I think the best part was chatting to fans and hearing what they thought.
Everyone was saying the same thing; how the BBL was a refreshing alternative to Test cricket.
It got more people interested in the sport, especially women and children. It was easy to take your kids to watch a game for three hours, instead of spending a whole day at a Test. For working people, it gave them something fun to do with mates after knock-off.
Us players loved the competition as well, because it took us out of the daily grind. We were able to leave the serious Sheffield Shield environment behind and enjoy the relaxed vibe of the BBL, having fun with teammates. It felt a little bit like being part of a footy club. It was exactly the same when I moved across to the Stars in 2014.
The BBL made cricket fun for me again and though I’ve stepped into coaching now, I am excited about season nine turning into another great summer.
I’m over the beer puns
Big Bash crowds are different to Test crowds. They’re colourful and much more fun to play in front of. The players really feed off that atmosphere, because you realise that while you’re an athlete, you’re an entertainer as well.
I had some funny fan interactions during my career, but the best ones were always when I went back to play in Perth, after I joined the Melbourne Stars.
The Scorchers fans could be pretty hostile and whenever I was sent out to field on the boundary, they’d give me plenty of grief. I always enjoyed giving it back to them as well!
It didn’t matter what team I was playing for, there was always someone yelling something out. That’s just part of being a cricketer.
I copped plenty of jokes about my surname over the years. Whenever I’d have a good game, the media would be all over it; ‘Beer on tap’, ‘Your shout Beer’, you get the picture.
After a few years of bad beer puns, I was pretty over it. I’d read one and think, ‘Can’t you guys give me something different for once?’.
I’m more of a Canadian Club man anyway. That’s one of the best parts of retirement; I’m able to kick back on the couch now and watch old mates in the Test team do their thing, while enjoying some cold CCs in air-conditioned comfort. It doesn’t get much better than that!
I might not miss the bad jokes but there are two things about playing that I will always miss.
The first is the way cricket fed my competitive nature. As a bowler, I loved going toe-to-toe with a batsman and trying to win that contest for my team. I loved feeling the support of my teammates as I worked to get each wicket.
The second thing I miss is the camaraderie. I was always someone that liked to have fun, which I’m sure many old teammates would remember all too well, especially those I roomed with for the state teams.
The real impact of the WBBL
I’m wired towards teaching people and completed a degree in education while I was still playing. Mixing that with my love of cricket, and coaching was the obvious next step when I retired.
I’m now an assistant coach with the Stars’ women’s team, and a development coach with the men.
The Big Bash is where our next generation of stars begin their journeys, and I’m really enjoying the process of helping them grow into top-level players. I do a lot of work at training, but during matches I spend most of my time sitting with the youngsters in the stands, educating them on the things I see happening out there.
I had the best time of my life playing cricket and I want to help the next generation experience that as well. I hope that one day, they can look back on their careers and have the same fond memories that I do.
We’re seeing the rise of the WBBL at the moment, and it’s awesome being a part of that as a coach.
The women have got their own airtime now and they’re making the most of it. The players are growing their profiles and bringing even more people into the sport. I feel like I’m watching them building the future of Australian cricket.
I still don’t think they get enough recognition for the impact they have in the community though. Through their inspirational performances, they’re showing young girls all around Australia that they have a future in our sport.
I really appreciate that because I’ve got a little daughter and watching how the WBBL girls inspire her is incredible. I don’t think a lot of the players even realise how much of an impact they have.