Big Bash gets its WWE moment

Superstars locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball showdown, collars grabbed, equipment flung,ugly words exchanged, even a bloodied face. In WWE parlance, this was a "slobber-knocker." This incident, however, transpired on a cricket field. Gentleman's Game, anyone?

The scuffle between Marlon Samuels and Shane Warne at the MCG will have impressed even Vince McMahon, the godfather of scripted sports entertainment. The images of the squabble went viral and the Big Bash League (BBL) was suddenly on everyone's lips. Some even alleged that the confrontation was stage-managed.

The punishments meted out to the combatants, in a way, put such talk to rest, but the sceptics could be excused. As a script, it did seem too good to be true. A temperamental and eccentric Jamaican taking on cricket's greatest prima donna. Conveniently enough, Warne was miked up, and the mostly unparliamentary exchange was audible throughout.

Where they would have once made a beeline for the censor button, the producers milked the flare-up to the hilt, using every camera at their disposal to guarantee close-up visuals.

Into its second season, the BBL, unlike the IPL, has struggled to capture worldwide attention. Not because of any lack of innovation. From having players wired-up to LED stumps and bails, the BBL has all the trimmings. But the Warne-Samuels tirade might have inadvertently done the trick, while taking T20 cricket into the realms of the WWE soap opera.

Bharat is senior correspondent based in Mumbai

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