Cricket Australia is considering curtailing their Women's Big Bash League this season, something several high profile players disagree with. Not only would it take away opportunity but it could send a dangerous message about the importance of women in the game.
It was reported late last month that Cricket Australia could shorten the WBBL by sixteen matches due to COVID-19 related costs cuts. Should the cost cutting measures go ahead with WBBL|06, this could result in teams playing 10 games this tournament instead of the previous 14.
Clubs were supposed to see budget predictions for both a shortened 40 match and a regular 56 match season before deciding. Another option being floated is the possibility of overlapping the WBBL season with the BBL season, instead of stand alone competition like last season.
A spokesperson for Cricket Australia stated "Everything is on the table at the moment, we are exploring all options. Nothing has been confirmed as we try to find the best solution." Cricket Australia is apparently looking to reduce costs by 25%.
At present no WBBL start date has been announced. Part of the reason for this may be due to the pending decision on the Men's Twenty20 World Cup, reported to take place on June 10. The tournament was due to be played from the October 18 to November 15. However, COVID-19 related issues may result in its delay.
The possibility of Men's T20 World Cup being postponed could seriously affect the upcoming cricketing summer, creating a massive programming hole.
While this would give the WBBL an opportunity to shine as it did last year by being a stand-alone competition, the cancelation could be extremely financially costly for Cricket Australia. This may accelerate the need for cuts including the WBBL season length.
On the other hand a non-postponed World Cup could create another problem. It could result in budgetary issues if the WBBL was kept as a standalone competition or at its current length. The full decision on the WBBL competition is therefore unlikely to come out until the World Cup is decided.
Several high profile players have come out against this possible curtailment of the season. The most notable are Australian Internationals Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy and Sophie Molineux. When speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Meg Lanning didn't opt out the option of moving the season to overlap with the men's BBL to cut costs.
"We just want to play. We are willing to communicate and negotiate on what that looks like." Lanning stated. "We played a lot of double-headers in the early days of the WBBL but we moved away from that because I think it was ready to stand by itself.
"But, obviously, we are in a new situation now and we have to reassess and work out what the best thing is for for game and for the women's side of things as well. Everything is on the table and we just have to work out what is going to be the best result for everybody."