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.
While other women's leagues have shortened their seasons, the AFLW and Super W, those league's curtailment coincided with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. The WBBL|06 is not expected to be facing the same pandemic related issues later this year.
Already two other women's leagues, which also play later this year like the WBBL, have announced that they will host their 2020 competitions in full, even if it means playing without fans for part of the season.
The Suncorp Super Netball will be proceeding with a full 60 game season schedule. Its start date, August 1, 2020, is currently months earlier than the earliest projected WBBL start date. The Women's National Basketball League also announced that they will host their full 21 round tournament, with its opening weekend slated for November 20-21, 2020.
Both organizations outlined the importance of the domestic game to the continued progress of their respective sport. Both are also sports who do not have the financial backing or comparative popularity of cricket.
Therefore, other sports have already shown that a regular season is possible. Cricket Australia should take notice of these leagues when considering the fate of WBBL|06. They should also take note of the significant negatives a shortened season could produce.
Shortening the WBBL could squander some of the momentum women's cricket has created over the last few years. This momentum culminated with the national team winning the most recent Women's Twenty20 World Cup in front of 86,174 people at the MCG in February.
The shortened season and lower accessibility could also stifle the television audience, one that had an average audience of 191,000 viewers last year even though a number of matches appeared on Seven's secondary and not primary channel.
Moreover, shortening would reduce the current chances of players to gain experience and progress. It may even prohibit several elite rising young female cricketers from being able to gain entry into the top of the sport.
Lastly, shortening the WBBL would send a dangerous message about the importance of women's cricket. This at a time where many other, less affluent, authorities have been able to prioritize and schedule full tournaments.
Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy and Sophie Molineux are right. Do not shorten the WBBL.