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News

T20 World Cup puts squeeze on WBBL overseas stars

The fixtures for the tenth season of the WBBL have been announced with the Gabba added to the stadium series

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
08-Jul-2024
Adelaide Strikers celebrate winning the WBBL title, Adelaide Strikers Women vs Brisbane Heat Women, WBBL 2023-24, Final, Adelaide, December 2, 2023

Adelaide Strikers will open the tenth season of the WBBL as they aim for a hat-trick of titles  •  Getty Images

The WBBL faces a potential squeeze on overseas player availability with the tenth season of the tournament starting just seven days after the T20 World Cup finishes in Bangladesh, but the reduced length of the competition will see a higher proportion of games in the evenings at primetime with greater use of technology.
Nominations are currently open for the overseas draft which is expected to take place in early September - some clubs have already taken advantage of the new option to sign a player on a multi-year deal before the draft - and CA remains confident it will have a strong hand of overseas names, but the increasingly busy schedule may yet see some top stars consider their options.
England's Nat Sciver-Brunt, who made a late entry into last season's competition with Perth Scorchers, told the BBC she won't be making herself available this year.
The WBBL has been trimmed to a 40-game regular season with three finals in a bid to manage the workload of the game's leading players, but this season it has faced schedule pressure at both ends. Australia and India start a three-match ODI series four days after the final on December 1 while England face South Africa from November 24 which overlaps with the finals although Marizanne Kapp and Nadine de Klerk have committed to full seasons with Melbourne Stars and Brisbane Heat.
"Clubs are working really hard in the market at the moment with players and agents," Alistair Dobson, the head of the BBL, told ESPNcricinfo as the WBBL fixture list was unveiled. "Obviously the calendar for players in the women's game is really busy at that time of the year, particularly this year.
"We are excited about the players who have signed and think over the next month or two we'll get a sense from players as to how they are preparing for the World Cup and their appetite to come quickly to Australia, whether that's at the start of our competition, or perhaps a couple of games in which is certainly possible as well. We know the competition is still one of, if not the, most appealing for players around the world and we are expecting big names to be there again."

Gabba joins stadium series

The tournament's stadium series has been expanded and brought forward as Cricket Australia looks to replicate the crowd growth experienced in the WPL and the Hundred.
A standalone match will be played at the Gabba for the first time - the WBBL was last played there in 2019 as part of a double-header with the BBL - while there will again be two games at the MCG and SCG. Adelaide Oval will also stage its third game of the season having hosted an opening-day double-header on October 27, which includes defending champions Adelaide Strikers launching the tournament with a rematch of last year's final against Brisbane Heat.
The WBBL returned to major stadiums last season and the final at Adelaide Oval saw 12,379 attend although crowd growth still lags behind what has been achieved in England and India.
The stadium series fixtures will include a Sydney derby between Sixers and Thunder on November 10 and a Melbourne head-to-head between Stars and Renegades on November 15.
"The introduction of the stadium series to the WBBL last year was a great success," Dobson said. "Think it showed when we put the best cricket league in the world for women in the best cricket stadiums in the world we get a great product. The crowds loved it, the players loved it and our broadcasters loved it.
"We took a lot from that, we've added a big game at the Gabba; Brisbane Heat at the Gabba is iconic. We've brought them a week or so earlier than last year which means the games are even more likely to be live and the way we promote those games will be a big focus for us."
The final three days of the regular season will overlap with the Australia-India Test in Perth, including a game at the WACA immediately after the second day's play at nearby Optus Stadium. CA sees this as an opportunity to cross-promote and feed off the audience of the Test.
The reduced length of the competition also means significantly fewer games in the tougher-to-sell weekday afternoon timeslot.

Third umpire at every game

The inconsistent availability of TV umpires was in the spotlight last season with several incorrect decisions that were visible to viewers but not able to be checked on the field. With the reduction in matches there will be an enhancement in the broadcast facilities with a third umpire in operation at every game for line calls such as run-outs and stumpings. ESPNcricinfo understands that there will also be an increase in matches with the DRS available although it won't cover every fixture.

Full WBBL 2024-25 fixture list

October 27: Adelaide Strikers vs Brisbane Heat, Adelaide Oval (1.10pm)
October 27: Melbourne Renegades vs Sydney Sixers, Adelaide Oval (4.40pm)
October 27: Perth Scorchers vs Melbourne Stars, WACA (5.30pm)
October 28: Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Thunder, Blundstone Arena (6.10pm)
October 29: Sydney Sixers vs Adelaide Strikers, North Sydney Oval (6.10pm)
October 30: Brisbane Heat vs Melbourne Renegades, Allan Border Field (6.10pm)
October 31: Sydney Thunder vs Hobart Hurricanes, North Sydney Oval (7.15pm)
November 1: Adelaide Strikers vs Sydney Thunder, North Sydney Oval (3.45pm)
November 1: Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Stars, North Sydney Oval (7.15pm)
November 2: Brisbane Heat vs Hobart Hurricanes, CitiPower Centre (11.30am)
November 2: Melbourne Renegades vs Perth Scorchers, CitiPower Centre (3.00pm)
November 3: Melbourne Stars vs Hobart Hurricanes, CitiPower Centre (10.10am)
November 3: Melbourne Renegades vs Adelaide Strikers, CitiPower Centre (1.40pm)
November 5: Perth Scorchers vs Brisbane Heat, WACA (5.10pm)
November 6: Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Sixers. Blundstone Arena (6.10pm)
November 7: Sydney Thunder vs Brisbane Heat, WACA (2.05pm)
November 7: Perth Scorchers vs Melbourne Renegades. WACA (5.35pm)
November 8: Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Sixers, CitiPower Centre (11.00am)
November 9: Melbourne Renegades vs Melbourne Stars, CitiPower Centre (3.00pm)
November 9: Brisbane Heat vs Adelaide Strikers, Gabba (6.15pm)
November 10: Hobart Hurricanes vs Perth Scorchers, SCG (10.10am)
November 10: Sydney Sixers vs Sydney Thunder, SCG (1.40pm)
November 11: Adelaide Strikers vs Melbourne Renegades, Karen Rolton Oval (5.40pm)
November 12: Sydney Thunder vs Perth Scorchers, Drummoyne Oval (6.10pm)
November 13: Hobart Hurricanes vs Adelaide Strikers, Blundstone Arena (6.10pm)
November 14: Sydney Sixers vs Brisbane Heat, North Sydney Oval (3.30pm)
November 15: Perth Scorchers vs Sydney Thunder, MCG (3.45pm)
November 15: Melbourne Stars vs Melbourne Renegades, MCG (7.15pm)
November 16: Adelaide Strikers vs Hobart Hurricanes, Adelaide Oval (3.00pm)
November 17: Melbourne Stars vs Brisbane Heat, Drummoyne Oval (1.55pm)
November 17: Sydney Thunder vs Sydney Sixers, Drummoyne Oval (5.25pm)
November 19: Adelaide Strikers vs Perth Scorchers, Karen Rolton Oval (5.40pm)
November 20: Sydney Thunder vs Melbourne Stars, Drummoyne Oval (6.10pm)
November 21: Sydney Sixers vs Perth Scorchers, Blundstone Arena (3.45pm)
November 21: Hobart Hurricanes vs Melbourne Renegades, Blundstone Arena (7.15pm)
November 22: Brisbane Heat vs Melbourne Stars, Allan Border Field (7.10pm)
November 23: Melbourne Renegades vs Sydney Thunder, CitiPower Centre (10.00am)
November 23: Perth Scorchers vs Hobart Hurricanes, WACA (5.30pm)
November 24: Melbourne Stars vs Adelaide Strikers, CitiPower Centre (10.00am)
November 24: Brisbane Heat vs Sydney Sixers, Allan Border Field (7.05pm)
November 27: The Knockout
November 29: The Challenger
December 1: The Final (Reserve day December 2)

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo