The chief executive of Cricket Fiji, Alex Konrote, told FBC News he will use the on-going ‘Cricket Fiji T10 BulaBash League’ in the country as a further guide for national squad selection. Taking roughly the same time as a game of association football, and the chosen format of the burgeoning European Cricket League, T10 appears to have reignited the sport across cricket’s developing family in a post-COVID-19 era.
Whilst in some circles there is still a large amount of scepticism towards T10, with worries surrounding whether it will reduce the game to power-hitting exercises where the forward defence is lost and where bowlers are just there as feeders, Fiji – like Pacific neighbours Vanuatu – has embraced the format with open arms.
It will be interesting to watch whether the next national selection is vastly different from the ones that have gone before it. This will give an indication as to just how seriously the country is taking T10 cricket. The decision as to whether to include T10 players into the national fold could largely be down to whether or not the selection committee believes that the skills displayed by the players can translate to the slightly longer formats such as T20Is.
Further, once the selection analysis has taken place, it will be of interest to both other cricket associations and fans across the globe to see how the results of the team ranked 55th in the world, according to the ICC T20I rankings, differ with the inclusion of the players who have developed a reputation in the shortest format of the game.
Other associations will surely watching teams like Vanuatu and Fijian to ascertain whether or not they too should take T10 cricket more seriously or whether it is a specialist format that should be allowed to exist without placing pressure on the players to compete for international squad places.
The number of potential eyes that this selection process could place on Fiji can only be positive for a nation who are aiming to grow the game.
The Fiji national team may not be the only ones benefiting from the talent being seen through the BulaBash, with the individual players also have a lot to gain. Joji Bulabalavu may one such player who may make use the tournament to push for international honours.
At the age of 48, Bulabalavu is not new on the cricket scene in Fiji and has played for the national team before, however, is yet to have that big score to cement himself in the national team with his last international appearance coming in 2013 against Botswana.
In the first round of the BulaBash League, Bulabalavu scored a dominant 50 off 22 balls for Lakeba in their game against Komo. If the T10 tournament is able to promote the development of young talent and the re-emergence of previously tried players then this will only allow for talent in the country to further develop.
A five-team women’s T10 league is also expected to get underway shortly.
The tournaments and the selection policy of Cricket Fiji may just revolutionise the selection process of emerging teams globally and could mean that Fiji is one step ahead of other countries. Only time will tell.