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Major signings unveiled at WBBL launch

Australia's best female cricketers launch the first season of the Women's Big Bash League

The best female cricketers from around the world will descend on Australia this summer for the first ever season of the Women's Big Bash League.

The full fixture and first major player signings for WBBL season one were announced in Sydney today, with 59 matches to be played in 51 days over the summer holidays.

SCHEDULE: Check out the full fixture for the 2015-16 WBBL

Eight of those matches, including the final on January 24, will be broadcast live and free on Network Ten's ONE, underlining the exciting new era for women's cricket in Australia.

The WBBL will feature eight clubs - aligned with the eight clubs in the men's KFC T20 Big Bash League - with eight of Australia's biggest names already signed on for the first season.

Southern Stars captain Meg Lanning has joined the Melbourne Stars, star allrounder Ellyse Perry will play for the Sydney Sixers, while exciting young quick Holly Ferling has joined the Brisbane Heat. 

Julie Hunter (Hobart Hurricanes), Jess Cameron (Perth Scorchers), Rene Farrell (Sydney Thunder), Sarah Elliott (Melbourne Renegades) and Megan Schutt (Adelaide Strikers) have also signed on, while the competition is also set to attract a host of international stars from around the world.

"Our goal is to see cricket become the sport of choice for women and girls across the nation, whether as participants or fans, and the WBBL will play a really important part in helping us realise that vision," said Cricket Australia's Executive General Manager of Operations Mike McKenna.

"Australia has had a professional women’s competition in the Women’s National Cricket League for 19 years and the new competition is a significant step forward for women's cricket in Australia, as we aim to create a more visible and exciting pathway for talented female athletes. 

"We want young girls to know that they too can aspire to represent their favourite Big Bash team."

Lanning, who on Monday will depart for the UK as her Southern Stars aim to regain the Ashes in England, said having eight matches broadcast live on free-to-air TV will do wonders for the women's game in Australia.

"As a player, I’ve never experienced a more exciting time for women’s cricket than now," Lanning said.

"The national team is gaining an increased profile and the opportunities flowing from the new WBBL will be enormous, particularly with it being televised.  

"Hopefully this is just the beginning of what will be a continued surge in girls wanting to get involved with cricket."

WBBL Season One - Major Player Signings

Adelaide Strikers - Megan Schutt

A fast bowler, 22-year-old Schutt of the SA Scorpions has appeared for the Southern Stars in Test, ODI and T20 internationals, including the 2013 Women's ODI World Cup

Brisbane Heat - Holly Ferling

19-year-old Ferling is a pace bowler for Queensland Fire, and has played for Australia in the 2013 World Cup and 2014 World T20

Hobart Hurricanes - Julie Hunter

31-year-old Hunter is a pace bowler for Victoria Spirit, winning three Women's T20 titles in a row from 2010-12. Hunter is also a winner of the ODI and T20 World Cups with the Southern Stars

Melbourne Renegades - Sarah Elliott

A 33-year-old batsman, Elliott is a long-time Test international and winner of the 2010 World T20 title

Melbourne Stars - Meg Lanning

Widely considered the finest cricketer in the women's game, 23-year-old Lanning is the youngest Southern Stars' captain and Australian Player of the Year. Lanning bats for Victoria Spirit

Perth Scorchers - Jess Cameron

26-year-old Cameron is a batsman for Victorian Spirit, winning three consecutive T20 titles from 2010-2012 and representing Australia at the 2009 and victorious 2013 World Cup campaigns

Sydney Sixers - Ellyse Perry

Perry, a dual cricket-football international, is a 24-year-old allrounder for the NSW Breakers and one of the most recognisable names in Australian sport. Perry has won three world T20 titles

Sydney Thunder - Rene Farrell

28-year-old Farrell is a fast bowler for the ACT Meteors, having played in the 2009 World Cup and the 2010 and 2014 world T20 championships for Australia

WBBL|01 Fast Facts

Total games: 59
Duration: 51 days
First game: Saturday December 5, Brisbane Heat vs Melbourne Stars at Junction Oval, Melbourne
First Sydney derby: Sunday December 6, Sydney Thunder vs Sydney Sixers at Spotless Stadium, Sydney
First Melbourne derby: Saturday January 2, Melbourne Stars vs Melbourne Renegades, MCG
WBBL final: Sunday January 24
Quota for Southern Stars' representatives per team: five
Quota for foreign cricketers per team: three
CA's 'Women's Payment Fund' for wages: $2.26 million
Retainers for WBBL players: $3000-$10,000 per campaign

Follow the Women's Big Bash League on Twitter!

Adelaide Strikers - @StrikersWBBL
Brisbane Heat - @HeatWBBL
Hobart Hurricanes - @HurricanesWBBL
Melbourne Renegades - @RenegadesWBBL
Melbourne Stars - @StarsWBBL
Perth Scorchers - @ScorchersWBBL
Sydney Sixers - @SixersWBBL
Sydney Thunder - @ThunderWBBL

For news and videos follow @BBL on Twitter and like Big Bash League on Facebook