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CA shrinks WBBL to 40 games, new women's state-based T20 tournament created

CA announces ten-year action plan to increase investment, interest and participation in women's cricket

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Adelaide Strikers celebrate winning the WBBL title, Adelaide Strikers Women vs Brisbane Heat Women, WBBL 2023-24, Final, Adelaide, December 2, 2023

Adelaide Strikers celebrate winning the WBBL title  •  Getty Images

Cricket Australia (CA) has reduced the WBBL season to 40 games plus finals to bring it in line with the BBL and fit within a burgeoning women's cricket calendar, while also creating a new state-based T20 competition that will sit alongside the WNCL (Australia's female 50-over competition) to create additional player opportunities for domestic players with payments to be raised.
CA made the announcements as part of a ten-year Women and Girls Action Plan that is designed to increase investment, interest and participation in women's cricket along with the clear objective of trying to win gold medals at the 2028 and 2032 Olympic games when cricket will be part of those events.
The reduction in the length of the WBBL season had long been forecast given the window for this year's tournament had shrunk due to the scheduling of the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in September and October and a three-match women's ODI series between Australia and India that starts in Brisbane on December 5.
Players and coaches had publicly supported a reduced season that was in line with the BBL which would create a better schedule and context for matches, while not reducing the number of games on free-to-air TV.
The major concern was reducing the total playing opportunities for domestic players. But CA has found a solution by creating a new state-based women's T20 competition that will run in conjunction with the WNCL and could serve as the perfect warm-up for the WBBL. The new competition will also raise female domestic player salaries next season. The average female player in Australia with a WBBL and state contract, plus receiving full match payments for playing in every domestic fixture, will earn AU$163,322, which is an AU$12,303 increase on last season.
Beyond the restructuring of the WBBL, the creation of the new state T20 tournament, and the goal to win two Olympic gold medals, CA has boldly stated its wish to increase total revenue from women's cricket by AU$100 million in the next ten years, increase participation for girls aged 5-12 from 25,000 to 100,000, invest AU$500 million in women's cricket infrastructure and have at least 40% female representation in key positions across Australian cricket including executives, boards and community roles.
There is also a commitment from CA to schedule more women's matches in major Australian stadiums, starting with the women's Ashes Test early next year at the MCG which will celebrate the 90th anniversary of women's Test cricket. During the multiformat series, Australia and England will also play women's T20Is at Adelaide Oval and the SCG.
Australia's star allrounder Ellyse Perry was supportive of the initiatives.
"Australian Cricket has been at the forefront of the growth in women's sport providing some of the best opportunities for players with resourcing and remuneration and it's reassuring to know this commitment will not only be sustained, but greatly enhanced over the next 10 years," Perry said in a CA statement.
"With viewing audiences increasing, the public appetite for women's sport is now indisputable and we would love to see major stadiums filled with fans for our international and WBBL games and more girls inspired to play cricket.
"It is also extremely important that the increased interest in women's sport is reflected in sponsorship and broadcast deals, and I hope this plan will continue to drive this growth so that women's cricket continues to thrive."

Alex Malcolm is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo