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What We Remember

The first WBBL

The tournament that kick-started a renaissance in women's cricket

Brydon Coverdale
Brydon Coverdale
The Women's Big Bash League would have to be the most unexpected yet satisfying breakout event since Andy Dufresne chipped away at his jail-cell wall for 20 years and finally escaped through a tunnel that was hidden during its making by a poster of Raquel Welch.
Women's cricket has spent decades - many decades - struggling to win the attention it deserves. But when Cricket Australia made the decision to introduce the WBBL alongside the BBL in 2015-16 - with men's and women's sides all under the same team umbrellas - it was an instant success.
So much so that the broadcaster, Network Ten, made rolling decisions to increase the number of games it would broadcast, while also switching matches from a secondary station to its main one. More than 230,000 viewers per match watched the inaugural season, and those figures did not fall away in season two.
Just as much, the WBBL was about encouraging more young girls to play the game, and on that front too, the league has been a success. From established champions like Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry to newer stars such as Ash Gardner and Molly Strano, females in cricket now had role models who were genuine household names.
But the bigger picture was, well, big. The WBBL was a key catalyst for women's sport gaining significant ground, from the introduction of an AFL Women's league the following year to the ECB bringing in their own WBBL-style tournament.
And female players last year became part of Australian cricket's collective bargaining agreement, paving the way for multi-year contracts and a massive pay increase. The establishment and success of the WBBL was an enormous contributing factor, and a watershed moment for women's sport.

Brydon Coverdale is a former assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo @brydoncoverdale