Melbourne, Jul 7 (IANS): Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced that the upcoming season of women's Big Bash League (WBBL), comprising 59 matches, will be staged all across Australia after two years of disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and state border closures.
The eighth edition of the tournament will begin with Brisbane Heat hosting rivals Sydney Sixers under lights in Mackay on Thursday, October 13 and the final is scheduled for November 27. Matches will be staged in all six states as well as the ACT, with a total of 14 metro and regional venues to host games.
The return of WBBL to teams playing at their home venues is a piece of joyful news for fans of Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars, with the clubs set to host matches in Victoria for the first time since 2019 as matches will be played at Junction Oval, Ballarat's Eastern Oval and Moe's Ted Summerton Reserve.
"The WBBL evolving into more of a prime time competition is exactly what it merits and it's a great evolution for the competition. I think those festival weekends have proven really popular, and I think the players really enjoy them and fans love being able to see lots of cricket on one weekend."
"But equally, in previous years we've had smaller festivals midweek, which is what we've been able to largely avoid this year and been able to move those midweek games into more standalone matches. More than ever, we've got one-off matches on an individual night, which just lends itself to sort of bigger crowds and bigger audiences. Ultimately, I think it's one of the strongest schedules we've had, if not the strongest since we moved to a standalone season," Alistair Dobson, Cricket Australia's Head of the Big Bash, was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
Sydney Sixers fans will be able to watch the Sixers and Sydney Thunder at North Sydney Oval and Blacktown International Sportspark, while the Thunder will also host a game at Canberra's Manuka Oval. Hobart Hurricanes also make a return to hosting matches at Blundstone Arena and Latrobe Recreation Ground.
Brisbane Heat will return to the redeveloped Allan Border Field for the first time since 2019, while Adelaide Strikers will host Melbourne Stars at Nuriootpa's Centennial Park and also at the Karen Rolton Oval. Perth Scorchers will once again host matches at both the WACA Ground and their popular Lilac Hill festival venue
Dobson pointed out that the WBBL has avoided a clash with the Men's T20 World Cup, to be held from October 16 to November 13. "Ultimately, (the World Cup) hasn't caused us too much disruption, partly because the venue mix is pretty separate and equally, the Australian matches in the World Cup are something we've been able to avoid."
Perth Scorchers are the defending champions of the competition, defeating Adelaide Strikers in the final last year.