WBBL life-changing for domestic players

25 December 2015

TV is bringing players closer to fans than ever before // Getty Images

Our voices

Broadcast games in the WBBL|01 are a whole new world for the majority of the competition's players

About the Writer:

Lisa Sthalekar is an Australian cricket legend who was the first player to score 1,000 runs and take 100 wickets in ODIs in her glittering Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars career. This summer, she is staging a comeback for the Sydney Sixers in the Women's Big Bash League.

As the Rebel Women's Big Bash League teams stop and enjoy time with family and friends over Christmas, the start of this inaugural competition could not have been more successful. 

Record crowds at surburban grounds, including 1,500 at Melbourne's Junction Oval, and a television audience averaging over 200,000 on One HD, has meant that Cricket Australia can take a bow.  

On the field, all teams have now registered a win, with the Hobart Hurricanes still leading the way despite the Brisbane Heat being equal on points, due to a higher net run rate. 

Meanwhile, the life of a female domestic cricketer is slowly starting to change.

Quick single: WBBL team of the tournament (so far)

Not only are the players being exposed to matches being televised and having to perform under the lights, the schedule is starting to replicate the men's, meaning less down time and more travelling at awkward times.

Watch: Patient Perry guides Sixers home

The Commonweath Bank Southern Stars and some international cricketers, especially those from England and New Zealand, are used to playing under immense pressure and doing so in front of the camera - even then those opportunties are few and far between with only certain games being televised.

And while the final of the Women's Twenty20 competition has been broadcast before, they've largely been played between the same two teams, the NSW Lend Lease Breakers and VicSpirit.

Therefore, last weekend signified a significant change for domestic female players.

Two games were televised on Channel 10's One HD. This meant cameras were taken into the changerooms before players began their warm-up. The changeroom, known as the inner sactum of a team, now had camera crew, commentators, technicians, floor managers, security officers and plenty more converging on what is normally a very small space.

During the matches, player were interviewed as they came off the field after their batting performance. This meant quickly getting over their disappointment, catching their breath and articulating where the state of the match was and the conditions their teammate will face.

Then for the lucky few, (still not sure if you are lucky or unlucky!) there is a player that is mic'ed up normally for the entire match. Having been that player for the televised match between the Scorchers at the SCG, you have to go through the process of putting on the pack that contains the required equipment to talk to the commentators.

Watch: Kapp captures the moment

Your teammates are quick to start to call you the 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' as you try to get used to wearing wires and an ear piece as you bowl, bat and field.

Throughout the match, the commentators come down and ask your thoughts on the game or decisions being made out in the middle. This is normally after you have sprinted out to the boundary and are trying to catch your breath, knowing full well that you are sucking the big ones in trying to sound like you are as fit as a fiddle.

 Then there is the fact that there will be times that you are walking around and just talking either to the producer or the commentators. Meanwhile, everyone is looking at you like you are a freak, talking to yourself.

I even had our resident South African, Marizanne Kapp, comment, "I could hear you talking as I was running run in...can't you just talk as quietly as I do," as she giggled after taking her second wicket of the match. 

Thankfully for me, I had the familiar voices of Andy Maher, Mel Jones and Belinda Clark in my ear, with Maher looking after me and keeping my former teammates in check as the banter flowed.

I truly believe that the coverage David Barham and his team at Channel 10 are producing is changing the face of the game for female players. I am sure that this is the start of something big, with the scary fact being that the sky is the limit.

While all teams do have Christmas day off, for the first time female domestic cricket history Melbourne Stars will have to travel on Christmas Day to Perth to prepare for their clash on Boxing Day at the WACA. 

Watch: Sixers claim first WBBL win

That is certainly unheard of. I can only remember two times that the Southern Stars were away for Christmas, both times in India (1997, 2004). This is a sign of progress, of course. If the game is to move forward and capture the imagination of the public, more and more games will be played on public holidays to allow supporters to come down and cheer on their favourite WBBL team.

In a repeat of last year, there will also be matches across the New Year's Eve, with games scheduled on December 31, and January 1 and 2. 

Most excitingly, the Melbourne derby on January 2 has been moved from ONE HD to Ten's main channel, meaning it will reach more people than ever.

These are certainly exciting times for women's cricket. From all the players that are participating in the WBBL, we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and will look forward to your continued support of this excitring competition.

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