And so another cross-town sporting rivalry begins.
Sport is made famous by its rivalries, but even moreso by the ones that happen in the one city. The most famous are Arsenal and Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City, and in Australia we have Carlton taking on Collingwood as our main cross-town rivalry. This new one certainly won’t be up to par with these, but it will be fierce nonetheless.
The departure of Brad Hodge and Glenn Maxwell from the Docklands based Melbourne Renegades to the MCG’s home team, the Melbourne Stars, has sparked social media talk; you have to take one side.
Hodge’s reason for ‘coming home’ was purely the MCG. He said it didn’t feel right driving to the Docklands to play matches. He even took a pay cut to join the Stars. Maxwell also wanted to play at the home of cricket, but it was largely his Renegades form last season that saw him selected in the latest Australian Twenty20 squad.
The first Big Bash season was a good introduction into Twenty20 franchise cricket, with strong crowds at the matches and fantastic ratings on Fox Sports.
This season, it will be bigger. There will be more players, better quality and bigger fan bases. Cricket Australia has also seen the light and there will be two Melbourne Derbies, with the season opener at Docklands and the corresponding match at the MCG later on in the season. It is guaranteed that one of these matches will get a result due to the roof factor.
Last season, over 30,000 turned up at the MCG to watch the first Melbourne Derby, which resulted in a wash-out with the Stars being handed the points under the Duckworth/Lewis method. Many of the fans at the match hadn’t made their mind up on which side they should support. It is a very hard task to split Victorians in cricket terms.
The Renegades and Stars have been marketing heavily, in order to get the majority on their side. The Stars’ twitter account proclaims themselves as the most supported Melbourne side, while the Renegades’ have named themselves ‘the peoples team in Melbourne’.
Many have decided to join the Stars, with the lure of the MCG too much. However, people like myself have chosen the Renegades, where at the Docklands you can create a great atmosphere with only 12,000 people. At the MCG you would need at least 55,000 to do that, and that won’t happen at a state cricket match.
At this stage, the Melbourne Stars are looking the likely victors in the early rivalry race. They have the star players such as Cameron White, Dave Hussey and now Brad Hodge. They have arguably the greatest cricket ground in the world in the MCG. This team seems a lot like Collingwood, Stars chairman Eddie McGuire’s other side.
However, you can never write off the underdog and if there is anything Australians like doing it is supporting the underdog. The side that has to fight against all the odds. They have one of the smallest supporter bases and a smaller stadium than their rivals but still take it up to them. This sounds like North Melbourne, Renegades chairman James Brayshaw’s other side.
Coincidence? I don’t think so.
So Victorians, it is time to make your choice, will you pick the Stars or the Renegades? Don’t worry, it’s only for a month or two, we can still be friends afterwards, I mean there is a Sheffield Shield and One-Day Cup still to be won as a state together.