Two scenarios to revamp the KFC BBL finals are under consideration by Cricket Australia while the tournament could yet feature a condensed timeframe to keep it largely within the school holiday period.
Options under consideration include a four-game or six-game finals series and, depending on which format is ultimately chosen, the total number of matches played throughout the competition could be either one extra, or reduced by one, with the aim of wrapping up the regular season within the school holiday period.
Placing greater emphasis on the business end of the season has been a key focus for the League following fan feedback.
A double-chance for the top two teams in a four-game finals format is one option under consideration and would replicate the finals system used in the Indian Premier League.
This format, if adopted, would retain the full 56-game home-and-away regular season and add a second qualifying final, putting the total number of games in BBL|09 at 60, one more than last season.
The second option is a six-game finals series that would see five of the eight clubs play in the finals, with the extended post-season offset by a reduction in the number of regular-season games. If adopted, this option would mean the total number of games played in BBL|09 would be 58.
The BBL|08 season won by the Melbourne Renegades saw the competition expand from 43 games to a full 56-game home-and-away season for the first time.
It retained the same three-game finals format used throughout the competition's history, which last summer saw the top-placed finisher Hobart Hurricanes eliminated in the first semi-final by the fourth-placed Melbourne Stars.
It was the seventh time in the eight seasons of the BBL the top-placed side has been knocked out in the semi-finals, a fact that has been a key part of CA's regular off-season reviews.
"We are working through our annual review of the WBBL & BBL seasons," said a CA spokesman.
"Our priority is to ensure that any adjustments contemplated are made in the long-term interests of the League with fans at the heart of decision making.
"While a variety of options relating to the structure and timing of the BBL season have been discussed with key stakeholders, no firm decisions have been made and our process of consultation is ongoing."
Here are the two proposals in detail:
Option A: Four-match finals series
Under the four-match finals option, which is used in the IPL, the top two sides would play each other in the first match of the finals with the winner advancing directly to the grand final a week later.
The defeated team would get a second chance to make the grand final by moving to the second qualifying final.
The teams that finish third and fourth would play an elimination final, with the season over for the loser. The winner of this elimination final would advance to the second qualifying final where they would meet the loser of the 1v2 qualifying final.
The winner of the two qualifying finals would meet in the grand final, played at the home venue of the winner of the first qualifying final.
This format would mean a total of 60 BBL games in the season, one more than in BBL|08, although the season is expected to be condensed with more double- and triple-header clashes.
How a four-match finals format would work
Match A: First v Second
Match B: Third v Fourth (loser eliminated)
Match C: Loser Match A v Winner Match B (loser eliminated)
Grand Final: Winner Match A v Winner Match C
Option B: Six-match finals series
The six-match finals option is the more radical proposal with a greater impact on the home-and-away season.
It would see more finals matches played, but to accommodate that, the number of regular season games would be reduced, meaning an end to the full home-and-away season.
Under this proposal, clubs would play 13 regular season matches each instead of 14, meaning each club would play six of their rivals home and away, and the other club just once. It could mean an east coast club avoids a dreaded road trip to Perth, or vice versa.
It would mean a total of 52 regular season games – down from BBL|08's 56 games – and the six-game finals format would mean a total of 58 BBL games in the entire season, one less than last summer and two less than the four-match finals option detailed above.
The six-game finals format is based on a system first developed for Australian Rules football last century and used in other football codes in the country.
This option presents a complicated finals schedule that offers a double-chance for the top three regular-season finishers.
The top-ranked team could win the title with as little as two wins in the finals, while a team that finishes fourth or fifth could claim the BBL crown if they manage to pull off four successive sudden-death victories.
The first elimination final would see teams ranked four and five face each other, with the loser eliminated.
The teams finishing second and third would play in the first qualifying final. The winner would advance to play the top-ranked team in the first semi-final, and the winner of that match would advance directly to the grand final.
The loser of the 2v3 qualifying final would play the winner of the 4v5 elimination final in a second qualifying final.
The winner of that second qualifying final would then meet the losing team from the first semi-final in a battle to fill the second spot in the grand final.
How a six-match finals format would work
Match A: Fourth v Fifth (loser eliminated)
Match B: Second v Third
Match C: First v Winner Match B
Match D: Loser Match B v Winner Match A (loser eliminated)
Match E: Loser Match C v Winner Match D (loser eliminated)
Grand Final: Winner Match C v Winner Match E