Former Australian coach Darren Lehmann has been announced as the new Brisbane Heat mentor, in what will be his first coaching appointment since the ball tampering scandal in South Africa last year.
For such a long time Australia Day has been known for many international sporting classics, but in 2019 the day comes with a bit of a twist.
When once the day was known for the men’s Test team’s infamous Australia Day match or the ODI at Adelaide Oval, this year it’s all about the Women’s Big Bash League final, the culmination of a fantastic fourth edition of the WBBL and the crowning of Brisbane Heat as champions.
WBBL|04 has been a record-breaking season for women’s cricket, highlighted by Ellyse Perry scoring in excess of 700 runs for the season and six WBBL centuries, the most ever in a WBBL season.
The standalone finals series at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney over the past two weeks has put the WBBL in the spotlight, with strong media coverage highlighting the women’s game.
Last week the WBBL was in the news for its thrilling back-to-back semi-finals, with both going down to the last ball. Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Renegades were centimetres from a spot in the WBBL grand final, but Brisbane Heat and the Sydney Sixers have been two of the best teams all season and deserved their spot in today’s final.
The Queensland-New South Wales rivalry has continued to shine, with the Heat the first team outside New South Wales and Western Australia to make it to the big dance in WBBL history.
The scenes were dramatic at Drummoyne today, with Big Bash League CEO Kim McKinnie having to face the crowds after the match was deemed a sellout in a similar way to AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan’s admission at the first-ever AFLW match, which was similarly packed out. It was a great look for women’s cricket.
Another good look was fans setting up camp behind the fence to get a taste of WBBL action, showing that people want to watch women’s cricket.
If the WBBL followed the format of the highest-ranked team hosting the grand final, all WBBL grand finals would have been played in Sydney in front of the fans, but Sydneysiders have waited and have finally been rewarded with a grand final at Drummoyne Oval.
The game lived up to expectations, with Brisbane Heat claiming the championship in a thrilling final over. A Laura Harris four crushed Sixers hearts with just four balls remaining, denying the ladder leaders a three-peat and taking the WBBL title away from Sydney for the first time in the competition’s history.
In October the WBBL will move to being a standalone league, playing until December and with the grand final scheduled before the men’s tournament bowls their first ball for BBL|09. This will put women’s cricket in the spotlight for the first time in Australia, bringing with it increased coverage.
The sky is the limit for women’s cricket, and the ICC and Cricket Australia have hopes of selling out the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup next year. With the support of the women’s game, there’s no reason this can’t be possible.
This summer the WBBL has gone from strength to strength, and it will continue to shine for years to come.