Cricket Australia is set to make the Women’s Big Bash League a standalone competition during the 2019 spring in a move that could trigger the downfall of the burgeoning competition.
Just as we’re beginning to see in the fledgling AFLW, the WBBL could be heading towards serious trouble.
The players will be denied the chance to play in top-class facilities. Instead they’ll take to far-flung fields in the middle of nowhere devoid of atmosphere and core fan-bases.
Australia’s women cricketers deserve to be playing on the best grounds in the country, not rural fields usually reserved for amateur leagues and premier cricket. Double-headers will be scrapped, which will prevent supporters from enjoying a day out at the Big Bash watching both the men and the women battle it out.
The whole point of the WBBL was to create a league mirroring the BBL. For the supporters to have better access to the league, the WBBL must be played in its current slot, when the summer holidays have started and when the kids can go to the matches. Young girls (and boys) are inspired by their heroes playing in the professional leagues like the BBL and WBBL, but they’ll be unable to watch them when the WBBL is shifted into spring this year.
The weather in October is very different to December, bringing with it a bigger risk fo rain. We’ve already seen two matches abandoned due to rain this season – just imagine what it would be like when cricket is being played in spring.
We’ll also see a clash in 2020 when the T20 World Cup hits Australian shores. The World Cup will be held from 18 October until 15 November, running over the top of the WBBL competition.
Cricket Australia’s idea is to have it enshrined in its own timeframe, allowing supporters and broadcasters to fully focus on the women’s game before the men’s competition kicks off in summer with internationals in late November, but the WBBL will become a second-class citizen with the World Cup running at the same time. It’ll also further reduce access to top venues, which will be taken over by the international tournament.
International players may also not be able to commit to the WBBL next season as international schedules are held during October. Training camps might also be run by the various cricket bodies, preventing players from travelling to Australia for the WBBL.
The only positive I can find in this shift is that the players will now be home for Christmas. Interstate and international players have been unable to celebrate Christmas with their families for the past couple of season, so they will finally be able to return home to celebrate with their loved ones in 2019.
Let’s hope Cricket Australia can seriously think this through and change their decision to shift the WBBL schedule in future seasons.