Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket
Cricket Australia's operations manager and Big Bash League boss Mike McKenna confirmed today that the BBL would not be expanding beyond its existing eight teams until at least Network Ten's broadcasting deal expired in 2018-19.
"It [team expansion] would never be any earlier than that [the next TV deal]. That's the absolute earliest you'd ever think about it," McKenna told the Herald Sun. "We've got to convince not only ourselves but all of our stakeholders, including state associations, that if we do expand it's going to be beneficial to everyone.
"There's been research done. One report we saw around soccer showed how the A-League, J-League and Major League Soccer in the USA all had a dip around the 5-7-year mark. That's where you can get complacent. Take your eye off the ball and you go backwards. We're very conscious of that, so we want to make sure we really lock this in before we think about taking the next step."
McKenna also said that any new teams would not be located in the state capitals. "There are big regional centres who don't get access to international cricket and the Big Bash is a way of taking the game at the elite level to those areas. But if you don't have a ground that's capable of playing, we're not in a position to build them so that limits you. There aren't many grounds that are ready for cricket."
Increasing the number of overseas players per team from two to three is also something Cricket Australia is considering along with potentially redesigning the finals structure, with the Sheffield Shield schedule said to be open to change.
Meanwhile, Network Ten have promised that they will broadcast all of next season's BBL matches live in all states after facing criticism for delays in Queensland and South Australia.