For the first time in its history, the Women’s Big Bash League, which goes into its fifth season this year, will be played as a standalone competition, with seven festival weekends of cricket confirmed in the fixtures that were unveiled on Wednesday, 12 June.
The marquee women's T20 league has traditionally been played alongside the men's competition, but is now set to be played in its own, independent window for the first time. The move comes as a monumental one for the women’s game in Australia ahead of hosting the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in February 2020.
Speaking on the announcement, Anthony Everard, the Cricket Australia Executive General Manager Fan Engagement, said: “This is monumental for the women’s game. The players showed that last year with more totals of over 150 than the first previous three seasons of the WBBL combined, all culminating into an incredible standalone finals festival weekend."
Festivals will be held at four T20 World Cup venues, including Allan Border Field (Oct 26-27), the WACA (Nov 1-3), Karen Rolton Oval (Nov 9-10) and Junction Oval (Nov 30 – Dec 1).
Everard further added that the move will enhance opportunities for female cricketers across the globe to express themselves in the league.
“Moving the entire tournament to its own standalone period is the first step towards achieving that ultimate goal of being the best women’s league in the world, giving the world’s best female cricketers from across the globe the platform to show fans what they are capable of,” he said.
The previous season of the league saw some incredible cricket, with both the semi-finals going down to the last ball. The final - another last-over finish - in which Brisbane Heat inched past Sydney Sixers by three wickets, attracted a record-breaking television audience of 479,000 across Seven and Fox Cricket, in addition to a sold-out crowd at the Drummoyne Oval in Sydney.
The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Australia 2020 begins on February 21 with Australia taking on India at Sydney Showground Stadium. The final at the MCG is scheduled for March 8, International Women’s Day, presenting an opportunity to break a world record for the highest attendance at a women’s sporting fixture.