New look WBBL finals set to shake up season
The newly named Weber WBBL will also have a rejigged finals structure this season, with the highest ranked qualifier to be better rewarded
7 September 2021, 08:00 PM AEST
A shake up of the Women’s Big Bash finals system will hand the top-ranked team at the end of the season a greater advantage than ever before.
While the scheduled start of the season in Sydney remains shrouded in uncertainty due to ongoing lockdowns and border closures, Cricket Australia have revealed a new look tail-end of the tournament.
The league has also welcomed a new naming rights partner, Weber Barbecues, ahead of its seventh edition.
While the top four will still advance to the finals in Weber WBBL|07 – remaining different to the KFC BBL, where the top five qualify – the new system will significantly advantage the teams finishing in the top two.
In previous tournaments, the semi-finals have pitted 1 v 4 and 2 v 3, with the winners meeting in the final.
Now, the teams finishing third and fourth will need to win two playoff games in order to reach the final.
This season, the top-ranked team at the end of the 56-game regular season will directly progress to – and host, COVID permitting – the final on Saturday November 27.
The teams finishing third and fourth will meet in The Eliminator on Wednesday, November 24, with the winner to then play the second-ranked team in The Challenger on Thursday, November 25, for a spot in the final.
Both The Eliminator and The Challenger will be played at the home venue of the second-placed team, border restrictions permitting.
"The new Weber WBBL|07 Finals format adds more incentive than ever to finishing on top of the table," Alistair Dobson, Cricket Australia’s General Manager of Big Bash Leagues, said.
"Not only will teams have a guaranteed path to The Final, they’ll also have the backing of a strong home crowd, with fans given more time to secure their ticket to the Final.
"The League views The Final as a marquee moment in the summer of Big Bash and we look forward to creating an unmissable event to cap the Weber WBBL|07 season."
WBBL|07 is scheduled to begin in Sydney on October 14, with a festival of cricket at North Sydney Oval featuring all eight teams to kick off the first weekend of the season.
However ongoing lockdowns and border closures, restricting movement out of New South Wales and Victoria, appear likely to force significant changes.
The challenges concerning COVID-19 have already seen the entire CommBank Series against India, due to begin later this month, moved to Queensland.
Dobson said the league was committed to playing the season in full.
"We are committed to ensuring cricket remains a leading sport for women and girls by holding a full, safe and successful Weber WBBL|07 season," he continued.
"We learnt many lessons from staging full WBBL and BBL seasons last summer and are confident of another safe and successful summer ahead.
"We’ll continue to work with our clubs, state and territory governments, health authorities and broadcasters in the lead up to the Weber WBBL|07 season, which remains on track to begin on October 14."
Meanwhile Weber, the world’s leading barbecue brand, will also become a supplier of the KFC BBL.
The brand has a longstanding link to cricket; it was first introduced to Australia in 1978 by Adelaide-based Ross McDonald, whose daughter Fiona played 35 Women’s National Cricket League matches for South Australia.
“As the League enters its seventh season, we’re thrilled to be working with Weber as we continue advancing cricket as a leading sport for women and girls," Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer Nick Hockley said.