BBL revamps finals as full schedule revealed
A double-chance for the top two teams has been introduced in a new five-game format to raise excitement levels at season end to fever pitch
25 July 2019, 12:19 PM AEST
A new-look, five-team finals series has been introduced for the 2019-20 KFC BBL season to better reward teams that finish in the top two.
Played over two weekends, the new five-match finals system guarantees a double-chance for teams that finish first and second in the regular season.
In six of the eight previous BBL seasons the team that has finished top of the table has been knocked out in a cut-throat semi-final and Cricket Australia has moved to make the finals fairer for the teams that dominate the regular season.
The five finals matches have all been given unique monikers; The Eliminator, The Qualifier, The Knock-Out, The Challenger and The Final.
BBL|09 Finals Series (Home team listed first)
Thurs Jan 30: The Eliminator (Fourth v Fifth)
Fri Jan 31: The Qualifier (First v Second)
Sat Feb 1: The Knock-Out (Third v Winner of The Eliminator)
Thurs Feb 6: The Challenger (Loser of The Qualifier v Winner of The Knock-Out)
Sat Feb 8: The Final (Winner of The Qualifier v Winner of The Challenger)
While the new system does raise the possibility that the team finishing fifth of the eight teams could win the tournament, they would have to win four finals away from home in the space of nine days to lift the trophy.
"If a team can go on a run like that at the end of a season, they probably earn the right to win it," said Cricket Australia's Head of the BBL, Alistair Dobson, at the launch of the 2019-20 BBL fixture.
"You'd have to win four finals to win it from fifth.
"Also, another team being a part of it keeps the end of the (regular) season alive. We're really excited about the finals."
The new model has also secured a season decider on a Saturday night as opposed to a Sunday afternoon in previous seasons.
Expanding the finals does add two extra games to the tournament, but this has been off-set by a regular season that has been compressed by almost two weeks.
It's hoped that playing the finals over two weekends will help build excitement for the biggest games of the season. The previous finals system lasted just four days and the venue for the grand final was only known 36 hours in advance, while it will be locked in eight days in advance under the new model.
"The number one element is to give the best chance for the teams finishing first and second to make it through," Dobson said. "We want to reward the teams finishing first and second as well as we can.
"(We want) more fans to be part of the finals and this model also gives us a chance for the team hosting the final to have more preparation.
"It's been a big focus to end the season in an appropriate fashion."
Previous finals campaigns under the four-team system have seen fourth-placed sides out-perform those who have finished first. In the short history of the BBL, only one team has won the league having topped the table at the end of the regular season while fourth-placed finishers have won two titles and finished second in the past two seasons.
Last summer, the dominant Hobart Hurricanes finished two wins clear of the competition in first place but were knocked out in a do-or-die semi-final, sparking fresh calls for the finals system to be revamped.
"With such a long tournament … the better teams tend to pop out on top of the table and to get a second chance would be good," Hurricanes Adam Griffith said at the time.
Other features of the 2019-20 Big Bash fixture include:
* A shorter regular season, which has been reduced from 54 days last summer to 42 days
* No game on Christmas Day, although the idea may be revisited in the future
* More uniformity around match times, with the majority of night games on weekdays to start at 7.10pm AEDT
* Fifteen days featuring two matches
* A Grand Final re-match between the Renegades and Stars at the MCG on January 4
* Marquee games in Hobart on Christmas Eve, Perth on Boxing Day, Adelaide on New Years' Eve and Gold Coast on New Years' Day
* Games to be played outside major metropolitan stadiums, with matches already scheduled in Geelong, Alice Springs, Launceston and the Gold Coast and more regional venues to be confirmed
Another major change this season is the absence of Australia's men's team on home soil at the height of summer, which will see the Big Bash take centre stage.
Following the end of the SCG Test early in the new year, Australia's international players will head to India for ODIs on January 14, 17 and 19 before returning for the business end of the BBL.
The BBL will act as a curtain raiser for the first two matches of that ODI series; the start time for BBL matches on January 14 and 17 – in Brisbane and Adelaide respectively – have been brought forward to 3.40pm AEDT to lead into the ODIs in the evenings.
There will be another early BBL start in Launceston on January 19, however the third ODI that night will clash with a Big Bash game in Brisbane between the Heat and the Renegades.
The 2019-20 season will start in Brisbane on December 17.