BBL takes on fan feedback to boost season 10 schedule
More games in family-friendly prime-time slots with a season that begins in early December the hallmarks of new summer schedule announced today
15 July 2020, 10:18 AM AEST
This summer's KFC BBL will start earlier than ever before, feature more matches in prime-time slots and a regular season that wraps up by Australia Day, with the schedule for the tenth season of the competition announced today by Cricket Australia.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may yet force alterations to the summer of cricket, today's announcement confirms the commitment to a full 61-game schedule, including the return of the five-team finals format.
Also announced today was a full 59-game sixth season of the Rebel WBBL to be played between October 17 and November 29, with more televised matches than previous seasons. More details on the WBBL|06 announcement can be found here.
The BBL will begin on December 3 – following on from the first scheduled day of Australia's opening Test with India – with the final to be played on February 6.
Starting with the Adelaide Strikers hosting the Melbourne Renegades to follow on from day one of the Gabba Test match, the BBL will run for eight nights before it takes a five-day break for Australia's day-night Test with India on December 11-15.
The extended season will also benefit the Perth Scorchers, who as things stand face a gruelling 'home game - travel - away game' schedule to the east coast just twice this season, a marked improvement on last summer.
The new season will see an extra 11 games scheduled to begin in prime-time slots compared to last summer, bringing the total to 48 – the bulk of them starting at 7.15pm – with 40 regular season games plus all finals available on free-to-air broadcaster Seven.
Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports via cricket.com.au and the CA Live app will broadcast all 56 regular season games plus finals.
The 16 Fox and Kayo exclusive matches include a Christmas Eve afternoon clash in Hobart, as well as all games on Friday nights and Saturday double-headers throughout January.
Further innovations for the BBL will be announced at a later date, but are expected to include a draft system for international players, while bonus points, splitting Powerplays, strategic substitutions and free-hits for wides have all been mooted.
If Australia's home international summer schedule can continue as published, Australia's Test-only players could link-up with their BBL clubs after the SCG Test in early January for the run home.
On the flip side, BBL clubs will likely lose their Australian limited-overs stars around the same time, and may not see them for the remainder of the season.
Australia's last scheduled home international is on February 2, with the BBL Final to be played until four days later. Dates and venues for other matches in the five-team finals series will not be determined until later in season.
Although the BBL will start a fortnight earlier than its traditional slot, CA has previously confirmed this summer's Marsh Sheffield Shield competition would remain at 10 rounds plus a final, although fixtures for that and other domestic competitions will be released at a later date.
CA's Head of the Big Bash Leagues, Alastair Dobson, said the earlier start to the season came after extensive feedback was sought from fans and clubs after last summer, but added remaining flexible during a global pandemic was key.
"Scheduling in the time of coronavirus is not without its challenges, as we have seen in elite sporting conditions at home and abroad, and there are factors outside the league itself which could impact the fixture at a later date," Dobson said.
"That said, at this time, we are happy with the fixture as it stands and excited to celebrate a decade of Big Bash with Australian fans during the summer.
"It should ensure that more BBL matches are played in prime time and enable the regular season to again finish inside the school holidays, which was a key objective, particularly in light of the busy international schedule planned for the coming summer."
Travel to regional centres has been restricted due to the threat of the coronavirus, with no matches scheduled in Alice Springs or the regional Victorian centre of Moe this year. However, the league is still scheduled to visit Launceston, Coffs Harbour, the Gold Coast and Canberra outside of the clubs' regular home venues.
View the full Rebel WBBL|06 and KFC BBL|10 fixtures here.