The schedule for the upcoming Rebel WBBL season was released today by Cricket Australia. The tournament is to take place this October-November and will remain a stand-alone competition.
Despite earlier speculation about the possibility of the competition being shortened, the sixth edition of the WBBL will contain a full 59-game season. Cricket Australia is, therefore, showing its commitment to building on the momentum of the T20 Women's World Cup which culminated in an Australian win in front of 86,174 people at the MCG last march.
The tournament will however have significant changes from previous competitions in order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes are in place to comply with all public health advice and government protocols, and the possibility of evolving requirements.
Perhaps the greatest pandemic related change in this competition is the location of matches. While they will be played in each city, games will occur at "hubs" each matchday. It is the hope that this will reduce the chance of COVID-19 related complications while adding flexibility.
The first weekend's matches will be "hubbed" in Perth and Brisbane, with four teams in each hub. The second will be in Hobart and Adelaide. There will then be a three week period where all teams will be based in Sydney with games played at the Hurtsville Oval, the North Sydney Oval, and Blacktown.
The competition will end with the final week being "hubbed" in Melbourne, as well as the subsequent Grand Final weekend. The full season schedule is as follows:
When speaking about the different hub format, Cricket Australia's Head of Big Bash Leagues Alistair Dobson stated:
"By focusing parts of the competition in a central location, it also provides options should the COVID-19 situation affect the flow of the season and we remain vigilant in all aspects of our planning to provide a safe environment for players and staff."
The biggest T20 women's competition in the world will see an increase in the number of games televised on the Seven Network and Fox Cricket, 26 games total. The other 33 games will be available on Cricket Australia's website and app. All fixtures will also be streamable on Kayo Sports.
Cricket Australia also announced that the option of live crowds will be dependent on the COVID-19 pandemic and government regulations, with updates expected at a future time. No information has been given as to when the contracting window will open, or if foreign players will be included in this year's competition.