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Cricket Australia slash BBL season length after fan criticism

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24th July, 2019
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Cricket Australia has confirmed the 2019-20 Big Bash League season will be slashed in a bid to win back families, with the last seven home-and-away games to be crammed into the Australia Day long weekend.

CA will unveil the full BBL09 fixtures on Thursday, with the 56-game regular season to be played across 41 days between December 17 and January 27 – the final day of school holidays.

Average crowds dropped in every state’s capital city during the expanded 2018-19 campaign, which spanned almost two months and was widely criticised for running well beyond the school holidays into a February 17 decider.

The finals fixtures – and format – are yet to be confirmed but the condensed regular season ensures they will be brought forward.

CA hopes condensing the season will maximise viewer interest and make the BBL more attractive to big-name international recruits.

“That’s been an important part of it,” CA’s head of Big Bash Leagues Alastair Dobson said.

“Creating a fixture that gives our clubs the best chance to go to market with a structure and a season schedule that is as appealing and available and accessible to players as possible.”

Brisbane Heat will host the first game of the season on December 17 when they face Sydney Thunder in a Tuesday night clash at the Gabba.

CA has scheduled seven games in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart across the Australia Day weekend to cap off the season.

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The weekend will feature double-headers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Melbourne Renegades host the Heat at Marvel Stadium on January 27.

For the first time since 1994 there will be no international fixture in Australia on January 26, leaving the BBL to fill the cricketing void.

CA had hoped to host an ODI series against New Zealand in January but Aaron Finch’s team will instead travel to the subcontinent during that month, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refusing to budge on dates.

Australia will play India on January 14, 17 and 19 in Mumbai, Rajkot and Bengaluru, potentially freeing up the likes of Finch, Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins for the business end of the BBL season.

“We’d love to see as many of them back playing as we can,” Dobson said.

“There’s a whole range of considerations that would be taken into account … the more big names we have in that, the better.”

BBL09 Australia Day Weekend fixtures

Friday, Jan 24
Hobart Hurricanes v Sydney Thunder at Blundstone Arena, 6.10pm

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Perth Scorchers v Adelaide Strikers at Optus Stadium, 9.10pm

Saturday, Jan 25
Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Renegades at SCG, 3.40pm

Melbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat at MCG, 7.10pm

Sunday, Jan 26
Sydney Thunder v Perth Scorchers at Sydney Showground Stadium, 2,45pm

Adelaide Strikers v Hobart Hurricanes at Adelaide Oval, 7.10pm

Monday, Jan 27
Melbourne Renegades v Brisbane Heat at Marvel Stadium, 2.45pm.
(All times AEDT)

© AAP