As Cricket Australia aims to bring the women’s game into the spotlight in the early part of the Australian summer, the MCG and the SCG are set to host standalone WBBL games for the first time in the competition’s history. On Thursday, CA announced the WBBL fixtures. The final five matches of the 56-game home-and-away season are scheduled to be played at the major venues of the Adelaide Oval, the MCG, and the SCG from Friday, November 24th to Sunday, November 26.
The MCG and the SCG have not hosted WBBL matches since the competition became a stand-alone event in 2019–20, being played in October and November, apart from the men’s BBL in December and January. Cricket Australia intends to highlight women’s cricket at the start of the Australian summer season. As a result, the MCG and SCG are scheduled to host independent WBBL matches for the first time in the competition’s history. The WBBL schedule was released by CA on Wednesday. The final five games of the season of 56 home and away games are scheduled to take place in the significant Adelaide stadiums from November 24 through November 26 from the Adelaide Oval, MCG, and SCG.
The MCG and SCG have not hosted WBBL matches since the competition became their event in 2019–20 when it was played in October and November and separated from the Men’s BBL in December and January.
In the past, the MCG has hosted two WBBL games, including the season finale for 2015–16, but each of those games served as an entry point for the matches of the men’s BBL. The SCG previously organized eight WBBL matches as entrances to the BBL matches, but not since December 2018.
However, Australia’s two most famous cricket grounds will feature stand-alone derbies in the upcoming season. On November 25, Melbourne Stars will meet Melbourne Renegades at the MCG. The Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder will then play in the SCG on November 26 as the second game of a double WBBL, while the Hobart Hurricanes and Adelaide Strikers will play there first.
Although expecting that many spectators for the WBBL is unrealistic, the MCG is infamous for hosting the women’s T20 World Cup final in 2020 in front of a record-breaking audience of 86,174. The WBBL will want to increase attendance at the MCG and the SCG, and Dobson is certain that there will be enough spectators willing to go in the future to promote more WBBL games in larger venues.
We will assess the success of such games in various ways, he declared. We wouldn’t put a number on it from the standpoint of attendance. Naturally, we’ll work hard to recruit people with our clubs, locations, and all of our partners, but at the time, player expertise ence is what matters most.
I believe that right now, people want to attend when fantastic cricket is played at significant, recognizable stadiums. We are currently seeing this in the United Kingdom [with female roses]. We witnessed it in the WPL, so it makes sense from a WBBL standpoint to give it a shot as well. The players are thrilled.
The majority of the tournament will take place in the smaller, more quaint locations that have come to represent the WBBL, such as Sydney’s Oval Norte and Melbourne’s Oval Junction. The location for Thunder games will be Cricket Central, Cricket New South Wales’ new high-performance facility.
There will be fewer neutral games as well, as the WBBL seeks to transform into a home-and-away competition after several years of having festival-like weekends where a variety of teams play multiple games in one location in a city.
Dobson stated that over the past few years, players have consistently expressed a desire to reduce neutral games, play more frequently at home, and make other significant calendar changes that, in his opinion, are supported by a large number of positive comments from players who truly feel a sense of ownership and kinship with this competition and who are willing to do whatever it takes to win.
After being played in the shadow of the men’s T20 World Cup in Australia last summer, the WBBL will have much more clear air this season in Australia. In India, it will run concurrently against the men’s 50-over World Cup, but there will be no men’s international cricket during the tournament.
The tournament will still have a 56-game season even if the men’s BBL will only have a 40-game regular season plus the finals. There are no current intentions to shorten the season.
Additionally, the WBBL will hold its first international draft this season. The next week will see the announcement of the format and the date.