BBL - Heat v Strikers
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 12: Rashid Khan of the Strikers celebrates taking the wicket of Mujeeb Ur Rahman of the Heat during the Men's Big Bash League match between the Brisbane Heat and the Adelaide Strikers at The Gabba, on January 12, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
BBL - Heat v Strikers

Individual players have already spoken out against the idea, but with the Australian Cricketers Association open to the idea, it's time for Cricket Australia to put the foot down on plans for Christmas Day Big Bash next summer.

The NBL - Australia's basketball league - became the first sporting code in the modern era to play on Christmas Day this year to great success. Cricket used to play on Christmas Day, but that was decades ago.

It was the highest-viewed game of the year with over 300,000 people tuning in through ESPN and Network Ten, while a sizeable crowd also made its way to Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena for the game between the Sydney Kings and Melbourne United.

Not only did the game work for the NBL but owner Larry Kestelman has suggested a double-header next year wouldn't be out of the question.

“Given the very encouraging numbers we've received so far, we would be open to scheduling a double-header on Christmas next year,” Kestelman said in a statement.

“There are always plenty of learnings when you break new ground and trailblaze like we have with this game so for us, it's about building this as a tradition now and growing the event each year.

“We will continue to speak with all our key stakeholders, including our clubs and broadcast partners, with a view to scheduling more blockbuster Christmas games as part of our fixturing moving forward.”

Adam Zampa, Hilton Cartwright and Jason Behrendorff are among the players who have already expressed their dismay at the idea of being asked to play on December 25, but with the ACA open to the idea and Cricket Australia having reportedly explored the idea previously, the NBL making the holiday date work might be just the push the competition needs to take the bold step.

Australia ODI & T20 Squad Members Training Session

Players hitting out against the idea is understandable - Christmas Day is supposed to be the one holiday that is completely off limits.

It's the only day of the year that the horse racing industry shuts down, and the holiday that has remained untouched by sport for decades.

But that is slowly changing, and the simple fact of the matter is that people have to work on Christmas Day. Whether that be people in emergency services, first responders or in some other industries, Christmas Day doesn't mean the whole world shuts down.

It's a fact ACA boss Todd Greenberg seemed to agree with when speaking on SEN Radio earlier this week.

“We are in the entertainment business,” he told SEN.

“So if that means working Christmas night, let's have the conversation.”

The Australian men's cricket team may not play on Christmas Day, but they are also in camp in Melbourne ahead of the Boxing Day Test - so not exactly at home with friends and family.

It's the way of the world, particularly in a big dollar industry where dollars and cents count - and you can bet the players will want every dollar they can get next time the collective bargaining agreement negotiations roll around.

Greenberg has all but confirmed the playing group as a whole are open to the idea of playing on Christmas Day, even if some individual players have spoken out against the concept.

He did, however, say that it would need to be a business case, while also having conditions with teams not having to travel.

“If we were to do it, we would have to have some conditions; it would need to be a derby – a Sydney or a Melbourne derby, where teams don't have to travel," he said.

“In short, are we jumping up and down saying we want to play on Christmas Day? No.

“But if we think it will add significant value and be beneficial for the game, we are open to that discussion, so we haven't closed the door, but I think you'd have to look at it carefully.”

In the BBL's case, the competition is desperately searching for relevancy in the mainstream public.

While Cricket Australia will continue to toot the horn that, on average, it's the most-watched sporting competition in the country, there is little dispute that both crowds and interest are down on the whole compared to the early years of the concept.

Blame what you will - and there are plenty of factors, whether it be the bloated tournament, lack of history or the gimmicky feel - but Cricet Australia are desperate to get the BBL back to the dominance it held over the summer in the early years.

Sports like basketball and football are a ways off catching the BBL at this stage, but the NBL is growing year on year exponentially, and the BBL will not want to give it a free leg up on Christmas Day.

That is something that could grow exponentially next year if the NBL does ultimately elect to go ahead with a double-header - Sydney vs Illawarra and Melbourne vs South East Melbourne for example, eliminating the need to travel.

With Marvel Stadium and the Sydney Showgrounds or the Sydney Cricket Ground available, there is little to no reason why a BBL Christmas Day game starting at 7pm couldn't only work, but thrive.

It's just time for Cricket Australia to bite the bullet.