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WBBL final to follow opening day of Australia-Afghanistan Test

The tournament is set to be taken to at least 11 venues around the country

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Sydney Thunder are the defending champions  •  Getty Images

Sydney Thunder are the defending champions  •  Getty Images

The final of next season's WBBL will be played following the opening day of the Australia-Afghanistan Test on November 27 while there will be a further increase in televised matches.
The tournament, which will start on October 14 at North Sydney Oval following Australia's multi-format series against India, is also set to return to a country-wide fixture list with at least 11 venues being used after last year was played entirely in a Sydney-based hub due to the pandemic although contingencies will apply should Covid-19 continue to impact state borders as is currently the case.
"Like all sporting leagues, we remain conscious of the need to be flexible in response to the challenges of the pandemic," Alistair Dobson, the general manager of Big Bash leagues, said. "This schedule provides us with a number of options should we need to pivot, and the lessons of WBBL|06 and KFC BBL|10 stand us in good stead should we need to do so."
The Afghanistan Test will be played in Hobart which means if the Hurricanes were to earn hosting rights for the final - they have never previously gone beyond the semis - it would not be played at Blundstone Arena. There will also be hosting rights up for grabs for the two semi-finals on November 24 and 25.
In total, 47 matches will be fully broadcast on television - a further increase in last season's 36 - will all the games again being streamed.
The competition is set to follow the 'festival weekend' model used in 2019-2020 when a group of matches are played at a particular venue. It means that while every team faces each other twice it is not a full home-and-away schedule and some games are at neutral venues.
The WBBL has traditionally focused itself around the smaller, boutique venues in the various states and in previous seasons has taken the game to regional venues such as Mackay, Cairns, Burnie and Ballarat.
Brisbane Heat will take WBBL matches to Metricon Stadium for the first time (it has previously hosted BBL) and also return to Mackay with Allan Border Field being redeveloped.
The Sydney Thunder are the defending champions after they defeated Melbourne Stars at North Sydney Oval in what was the first night-time decider in the competition's history. The Thunder's opening game will be against Adelaide Strikers on October 16. The tournament became a standalone event for the first time in 2019-2020 having previously been run alongside the BBL.
There is an expectation that a number of India players will be among the overseas names involved this year with ESPNcricinfo having previously reported Shafali Verma is heading to Sydney Sixers who have made room on their list by not re-signing Marizanne Kapp (who has joined Perth Scorchers) and Dane van Niekerk.
Overseas players will again be required to undertake two weeks quarantine due to Australia's closed borders although the Indians will already have served that period ahead of their international commitments. England's internationals are unlikely to be available this season due to the tour of Pakistan in October, but South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies currently have clear schedules.
For the Australian players the WBBL is part of a busy summer with the multi-format Ashes taking place from late January followed by the delayed ODI World Cup in New Zealand during March while domestically their will also be the Women's National Cricket League.
The story was updated upon confirmation of the fixtures

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo