Shortened BBL season wins over fans as crowds rise

The decision to cut 16 matches from the BBL schedule has paid off for Cricket Australia, with crowds up 29 per cent on last season

Cricket Australia believes their decision to shorten the Big Bash has been vindicated, with crowds at the halfway point of the tournament up 29 per cent on last year.

Crowds across the first 20 games of this summer's KFC BBL have averaged 17,473, compared with 13,530 in 2022-23.

The numbers are bolstered by the 42,504 who attended the New Year's Eve match in Adelaide, which marked the biggest crowd for the competition in four years.

A crowd of 42,504, the biggest BBL crowd in four years, watched the Strikers take on the Stars in New Year's Eve // Getty

Perth Scorchers and Sydney Thunder have also recorded their highest regular-season crowds.

The numbers come after CA made the call to reduce the regular season from 56 games to 40 this season, as part of rejuvenating the tournament.

A club-record crowd saw the Scorchers take on the Renegades on Boxing Day // Getty

"Creating some scarcity was always part of the thinking, and making it feel like every game is a must-see event," BBL boss Alistair Dobson told AAP. 

"But that doesn't work if you're not putting on great events and promoting them.

"Some structural adjustments with the number of games, scheduling decisions and salary cap has it all feeling like it's on the right track."

The BBL could receive a further boost in the coming days, with Test players likely to be available for up to four fixtures next week.

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Bowlers are unlikely to feature, but the tantalising prospect of David Warner and Steve Smith facing off in the Sydney Smash at the SCG on January 12 is possible.

A large crowd would also be anticipated for the Melbourne derby at Marvel Stadium the following night, which will double as Aaron Finch's farewell match.

Meanwhile, a similar decision on season length still awaits officials for next summer's Weber WBBL, which remained at 14 games per side this season.

A case has been made for the competition to trim the fat and shift to a 40-game season in line with the men's, which would see a reduction of some mid-week afternoon fixtures.

The biggest challenge for CA would be how to replace those games, with calls for the introduction of domestic red-ball cricket.

Another option would be a return to some state-based T20 matches at the beginning of the summer.

Adding to the decision is the fact that the women's T20 World Cup in Bangladesh this year would run into October, when the WBBL usually begins.

Dobson said the increase in men's crowds would not be the sole factor in deciding whether to shorten the women's competition.

"You can always learn one from the other in the WBBL," Dobson said.

"But when it comes to crucial things (such) as the structure of the competition, ultimately they are unique both in their shape, nature and role they are playing in international cricket.''

KFC BBL|13 standings

Matches played
No results
Net Run Rate
Total points
1 Brisbane Heat Men Brisbane Heat Men HEA 10 7 1 0 2 0.972 0 16
2 Sydney Sixers Men Sydney Sixers Men SIX 10 6 2 0 2 0.339 0 14
3 Perth Scorchers Men Perth Scorchers Men SCO 10 6 3 0 1 0.725 0 13
4 Adelaide Strikers Men Adelaide Strikers Men STR 10 5 4 0 1 0.331 0 11
5 Hobart Hurricanes Men Hobart Hurricanes Men HUR 10 4 6 0 0 -0.268 0 8
6 Melbourne Stars Men Melbourne Stars Men STA 10 4 6 0 0 -1.051 0 8
7 Melbourne Renegades Men Melbourne Renegades Men REN 10 2 6 0 2 -0.288 0 6
8 Sydney Thunder Men Sydney Thunder Men THU 10 1 7 0 2 -0.652 0 4

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

T: Ties

N/R: No results

NRR: Net Run Rate

Ded.: Deductions

PTS: Total points

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