It is April 2011, in the shadow of another sun-soaked summer of cricket. But change is in the air. The Big Bash League, Cricket Australia’s attempt to revitalise the domestic cricketing landscape, is still heavily conceptual. It is, in theory at least, a clean break from Australia’s traditional state-based structure, eschewing the representative pyramid for a franchise structure heavily influenced by the consumerist juggernaut that is the Indian Premier League.
While the end-result was a huge hit with crowds, a breath of fresh air into domestic cricket, and an opportunity for domestic players to make a better living than ever before, in April such success was hardly a guarantee. The BBL involved a shift to city-based franchises, the splintering of the New South Wales and Victorian markets, and, arguably most dramatically, a ban on the new teams from using their state colours. These were radical changes, unheard of in Australian cricket. Nobody knew how the public would react, and every BBL team wanted to draw in as many fans as possible.
This sparked an identity crisis, with each club pulling in their own directions. Adelaide channelled American baseball culture with the Strikers. The Sydney Sixers were intentionally ostentatious, dressed in hot pink (sorry, magenta) and arriving at the BBL launch, held at Redfern’s craft-beer-and-beard hipster contemporary art gallery, Carriageworks, in a hot pink Hummer blaring Lady Gaga. The Melbourne Stars went corporate glamour, the team quickly becoming a cult of McGuire and Warne, while James Brayshaw turned his Melbourne Renegades into a bastion of old-school masculinity. The Sydney Thunder took the ‘Western Sydney Battler’ trope a little bit too literally, the Perth Scorchers emphasised hashtag-ability, and the Hobart Hurricanes opted for purple. All of this rested within the BBL’s own aesthetic, a pastiche of sharp, neon colours and early-90s grunge earthiness reminiscent of Gibson’s Neuromancer.
And then there was Brisbane.
Enter Lee Carseldine, a man of two eras. Debuting in 1998-99 during what could easily be described as a golden era of Queensland (as well as Australian) cricket, he was the star of the Bulls’ previous T20 campaign. Who better to launch the new Brisbane franchise’s identity than Carseldine? The Heat’s marketing manager agreed; Carseldine was to be the man launching the new team colours. “I got stitched up by the marketing team,” he recalled, “To this day I still put **** on the Marketing and Media Manager. I’ve known him for 20-odd years and he still owes me.”
The Marketing and Media Manager’s brilliant plan? Carseldine, dressed exclusively in budgie smugglers, covered in teal body paint.