Carberry calls for T20 restructure

It is hardly a radical statement any more given the number of prominent performers who have demanded a shot in the arm for a tournament that seems increasingly bloated and out of step with its global rivals.

Indeed, while there may be disagreements over exactly how one might get the best out of Twenty20 in England, those who deny it is needed at all appear to be an increasingly marginal band of flat-earthers.

But from a former England cap who has just powered his side into the final of the Big Bash League, as Carberry did with a hard-hitting 50 for Perth Scorchers on Sunday, the words carry new weight.

Carberry has tasted the Big Bash in one of its most fervent hot beds at The Furnace, a short-form makeover for the WACA, and his conclusion is clear.

"I've really enjoyed it, it's the best thing I've ever done," he said.

"It's definitely on a par (with playing for England). Obviously walking out for the Boxing Day Test with 93,000 (in the ground)...that was hair-raising stuff but this is pretty much up there with international cricket.

"Initially it was a bit of a shock to see how popular this competition is, but you just throw yourself into it and completely get caught up in it.

"In my time as a player it's something that's been going for quite a while...to get this franchise system going back home, just to give the competition back home a bit of rejuvenation."

Carberry is not the only one being seduced by the format - a six-week blitz of brightly-coloured cricket, big on entertainment but surprisingly short on contemporary stars.

The current top rank of Australia stars have been drop-in attractions this season, not main features, while the sprinkling of overseas stars is largely those without major international careers (Carberry, Luke Wright, Michael Lumb et al), or those whose prime is long in the past (Andrew Flintoff, Brett Lee, Jacques Kallis).

Kevin Pietersen is an authentic A-lister, but has only been available to Melbourne Stars due to his fallout with the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The success of the tournament has been, in large part, in spite of its roster, not because of it.

The Big Bash scores off the charts on engagement - with all games being screened on free-to-air TV the central tenet.

Bars and homes all over Australia have a nightly appointment with the national sport, at no extra cost, and it has resulted in unprecedented levels of investment - in time, devotion and merchandise money - from the wider population.

"It's always the market...little things like the kits - bright orange, bright pink, lime green. Visually it's great to watch. We've got mums bringing kids because it's a great product," said Carberry.

"The fans can get so close too, we had a day set aside at the start of the season for kids to get bats, balls and caps signed then we played some cricket with them.

"You look at these crowds and you can see it obviously works."

Carberry's coach, former Australia batsman Justin Langer, believes free-to-air television is the root of the resurgence.

Big Bash used to live on a FOX Sports pay channel, but was moved as part of a Cricket Australia initiative of mass visibility for the sport.

"When it's on free-to-air TV that's a big thing," Langer told Press Association Sport.

"Everyone knows at the same time every night, for six weeks over Christmas, over the school holiday period, there is a Big Bash game on TV.

"That's really important for the kids. They're all watching cricket which is great for the big picture of Australian cricket.

"I'm not an administrator but from a pure cricket fan's point of view I love knowing you can go home at the same time every night and watch a game of Twenty20 cricket.

"People are talking about. It's been promoted exceptionally well and people are getting right behind it."

Recent iterations of county cricket's T20 product have fallen some way short of such glowing testimony, and it is time the likes of Carberry and Langer, who have personal experience of both worlds, are heard.

  Michael Carberry, pictured playing for Hampshire, believes English 20-over cricket needs a revamp along Australian lines
Michael Carberry, pictured playing for Hampshire, believes English 20-over cricket needs a revamp along Australian lines