Fourth season of Women’s Big Bash League set to reach new heights

The schedule for the fourth season of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) has been released today, with the fixture building upon the success of WBBL|03 and introducing a new look for the league that will help the competition reach new heights of popularity ahead of a stand-alone fixture in 2019-20.

The WBBL regular season will feature 56 matches, in addition to two Semi Finals and the Final, boasting more weekend games and family friendly timeslots than ever before. Once again, all regular season matches will be free of charge for attending fans.

Across the season, 23 WBBL matches will be broadcast live on FOX SPORTS and Seven, almost double the number of televised matches from last season, meaning fans will be able to enjoy more WBBL coverage at home than ever before. Fans will also be able to follow the WBBL action live via ABC Radio’s extensive coverage across the country.

In addition to the unprecedented coverage from broadcasters, Cricket Australia will live stream the remaining WBBL matches on and the CA Live App.

WBBL|04 will feature three festival weekends to start the season before returning to a more traditional fixture during the summer school holidays. The festival weekends, inspired by the popularity of the WBBL opening weekend in past seasons, provide both existing and new fans a fantastic introduction to the world-class on field action and family-friendly entertainment and atmosphere on offer across WBBL|04.

The season begins with a blockbuster opening weekend across Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December at the newly refurbished CitiPower Centre at Junction Oval. The weekend will feature four matches, with all eight clubs from across the country competing in this celebration of Big Bash cricket.

In what is sure to be the perfect start to the summer of Big Bash entertainment, all four matches across the opening weekend will be broadcast live on FOX SPORTS, Seven and ABC Radio, as some of the world’s best cricket players take to the field.

From Friday 7 December to Sunday 9 December there will be a second festival weekend of WBBL entertainment, featuring eight matches across four locations. The highlights will be the four games played at North Sydney Oval, the established home of women’s cricket in Sydney, and two matches in new expansion market Burnie, Tasmania.

The following weekend from Saturday 15 December to Sunday 16 December, there will be a third and final festival weekend, with four matches to be played at Blundstone Arena, two matches at Casey Fields, and a single match at a venue yet to be announced.

Once school holidays begin, fans will have plenty of WBBL action to look forward to as 40 matches will be played across 40 action-packed days. During this period there are several blockbuster matches, including the first ever WBBL night match at Optus Stadium, between the Perth Scorchers and Brisbane Heat, a New Year’s Eve showdown between the Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers at Adelaide Oval, a Christmas Eve match between the Sydney Thunder and Hobart Hurricanes at Spotless Stadium, and the first Melbourne Derby on the afternoon of Saturday 29 December at Marvel Stadium.

New markets to attract WBBL matches for the season will include Burnie, Bankstown and Cairns, with additional markets for Adelaide Strikers, Brisbane Heat, Melbourne Renegades and Sydney Thunder fixtures this season yet to be announced. Matches will also be returning to expansion market Alice Springs, where the Adelaide Strikers and Perth Scorchers will once again take the field in the heart of the nation.

In a League first, WBBL finals will be stand-alone fixtures, guaranteeing the top ranked team will win the right to host at their home stadium, in front of a home crowd. Both Semi Finals will take place on Saturday 19 December at the one location, with the Final to be played the following weekend on Australia Day, Saturday 26 January. With the standalone finals, fans can expect the family fun and atmosphere, which has been at the heart of the WBBL in its first three seasons, to be taken to new heights to provide an exciting, must-attend finish to WBBL|04.

Fans will experience incredible on field action in WBBL|04, with players from Australia and around the world expected to be in top form off the back of the ICC Women’s World T20 West Indies 2018, which concludes on Saturday 24 November. WBBL|04 also presents players with the opportunity to showcase their talent for the next major global event for women’s cricket – when the world comes together for the ICC Women’s World T20 Australia 2020. The tournament will be played in six cities across Australia, culminating in the final at the MCG, which presents a unique opportunity to set a world record for the highest ever attendance at a women’s sporting event.

Cricket Australia Head of Big Bash Leagues, Kim McConnie said: “We’re very excited to be able announce the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) schedule today, in what I am sure will be our biggest season to date.

“As the popularity of women’s cricket keeps growing in Australia, the WBBL continues to cement itself as one of the best family friendly entertainment options each summer, with world class on and off-field action.

“Following the success of the third season of the WBBL, our season will begin with a festival weekend at CitiPower Centre where all eight clubs will compete across four matches, ensuring the perfect start to the summer of Big Bash entertainment.

“For the first time ever we are moving the WBBL Finals to stand-alone fixtures separate to the men’s competition, in a move that is sure to please players, clubs and the fans. Both Semi Finals will be played on Saturday 19 January at the same location, hosted by the top-ranked team of the regular season, while the Final will be played on Australia Day. Giving the WBBL its own window for finals is an important step for the League as we look ahead to a stand-alone fixture in the 2019-20 season.

“Our new landmark partnership with FOX SPORTS and Seven West Media has enabled us to almost double the number of broadcast matches to 23, which will help us on our journey to be the leading sport for women and girls in Australia.

“We know there is a demand for women’s cricket, with more people than ever before tuning in to watch the sport, so the strong relationship we are forming with our new broadcaster partners will continue to reinforce the WBBL position as a competition that inspires young girls to understand that cricket is a game for girls too, and that they can make a career from the sport – not just at the top level.”

Erica Berchtold, Managing Director Rebel said: “Rebel are delighted to partner with Cricket Australia for yet another great summer of women’s cricket, and we look forward to seeing the game continue to develop and grow in the season ahead.

“Rebel’s ongoing support of the WBBL demonstrates our enduring commitment to women in sport, and the long-term sustainability and development of the women’s competition.”

Head of FOX SPORTS, Peter Campbell said: “FOX SPORTS is gearing up to deliver the biggest summer of women’s cricket ever. Australia v New Zealand T20s and the World T20 Cup kick things off before the WBBL launches into action.

“Starting with a blockbuster opening round, the new home of cricket will show 23 WBBL matches including all the finals live and ad break free during play. Across December and January, the WBBL will feature alongside the Australia v India Test Series and the BBL, all on a new dedicated channel, FOX Cricket.”

Seven Network Head of Cricket Dave Barham added: “There will be 23 WBBL matches on Seven this summer including all the key games and finals – almost double the amount shown on FTA last year – which is testament to the belief we have in women’s sport and women’s cricket.”