Women's Big Bash League

The Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) is the Australian women's domestic Twenty20 cricket competition.[1] The WBBL replaced the Australian Women's Twenty20 Cup, which ran from the 2007–08 season through to 2014–15. The competition features eight city-based franchises, branded identically to the men's Big Bash League (BBL). Teams are made up of current and former Australian national team members, the country's best young talent, and up to three overseas marquee players.

Women's Big Bash League
Refer to caption
Logo of the Women's Big Bash League
CountriesAustralia
AdministratorCricket Australia
FormatTwenty20
First edition2015–16
Latest edition2020–21
Tournament formatDouble round-robin and knockout finals
Number of teams8
Current championSydney Thunder
Most successfulSixers, Heat, Thunder – 2 titles each
Most runsBeth Mooney – 3,127
Most wicketsMolly Strano – 104
TVSeven Network
Fox Cricket
Current season
WebsiteWBBL

Sporting goods retailer Rebel was the official naming rights partner for WBBL|01 and has since extended its sponsorship for a further five seasons.[2][3][4] Seven Network and Fox Cricket are the current TV broadcast partners, televising 36 games of WBBL|06.

The league, which originally ran alongside the BBL, has experienced a steady increase in media coverage and popularity since its inception, moving to a fully standalone schedule for WBBL|05.[5][6][7] In 2018, ESPNcricinfo included the inaugural season in its 25 Moments That Changed Cricket series, calling it "the tournament that kick-started a renaissance".[8]

To date, the Sydney Sixers have been the most successful team, appearing in each of the first four finals and winning two titles. The Sixers' crosstown rivals, the Sydney Thunder, are the current champions.

HistoryEdit

Women's International Cricket LeagueEdit

In early 2014, the formation of an international women's Twenty20 competition, based around the franchise model of the Indian Premier League was announced. Headed by former Australian cricketer Lisa Sthalekar and Australian businessman Shaun Martyn, the proposal involved six privately-owned Singapore-based teams with players earning over $US40,000 per season.[9][10]

There was strong support from top female players for the Women's International Cricket League (WICL) concept,[9] and backing was sought from the International Cricket Council, while former international cricketers Geoff Lawson and Clive Lloyd were on the board of the organisation.[10]

The concept was dealt a blow in early June, when the England and Wales Cricket Board announced that they would refuse to release centrally contracted English players. At the same time, Cricket Australia (CA) announced it would not endorse the WICL either. Both organisations expressed concern that the tournament was not being run by a national cricket board, but a private company.[11]

Australian Women's Twenty20 CupEdit

Before the establishment of the Women's Big Bash League, Cricket Australia conducted a national T20 competition: the Australian Women's Twenty20 Cup. The tournament ran in conjunction with the WNCL (the national women's 50-over competition) with the final played as a double header alongside the KFC Twenty20 Big Bash and later the Big Bash League. The competition ran from the 2009–10 season to 2014–15 after some exhibition games were held from 2007 to 2009.

Cricket Australia decided to replace the competition with the Women's Big Bash League in an attempt to further heighten the profile and professionalism of elite-level female cricket, thereby ideally helping to grow grassroots participation and viewership of the game among girls and women across the country.[12][13]

EstablishmentEdit

 
Alternative WBBL logo

On 19 January 2014, former Australian national team captain Belinda Clark revealed the planning for a women's BBL was in its early stages, with CA keen to take advantage of the rising popularity of women's cricket and the success of the men's BBL in its first season on free-to-air TV.[14] On 19 February 2015, Cricket Australia announced that a Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) would commence in 2015–16, with teams aligned to the current men's competition.[12] Each team's first player signing was unveiled at the official WBBL launch on 10 July 2015.[15]

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland stated in a media release: "We see T20 as the premium format of the women's game and the WBBL is an exciting concept that will increase the promotion and exposure of women's cricket."[16] He went on to claim: "Our existing female domestic competitions are arguably the strongest in the world, with the continued success of the top-ranked women's team, the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars, a testament to that." Cricket Australia executive Mike McKenna said: "Our goal is to see cricket become the sport of choice for women and girls across the nation, whether as participants or fans."[17]

On 13 October 2015, 100 of Australia's elite cricketers joined together to pledge $20 million towards the growth of cricket in Australia, to help grassroots level Cricket, support former players and develop further opportunities for female cricketers.[18]

TeamsEdit

The competition features the same eight city-based franchises that are in the Big Bash League. Each state's capital city features at least one team, with Sydney and Melbourne featuring two.[19]

Team Location[a] Home ground[b] Coach Captain Titles won
Adelaide Strikers North Adelaide, South Australia Karen Rolton Oval Luke Williams Suzie Bates 0
Brisbane Heat Albion, Queensland Allan Border Field Ashley Noffke Jess Jonassen 2
Hobart Hurricanes Bellerive, Tasmania Blundstone Arena Salliann Briggs Corinne Hall 0
Melbourne Renegades St Kilda, Victoria CitiPower Centre Lachlan Stevens Amy Satterthwaite 0
Melbourne Stars St Kilda, Victoria CitiPower Centre Trent Woodhill Meg Lanning 0
Perth Scorchers East Perth, Western Australia Lilac Hill Park Shelley Nitschke Sophie Devine 0
Sydney Sixers Moore Park, New South Wales North Sydney Oval Ben Sawyer Ellyse Perry 2
Sydney Thunder Sydney Olympic Park, NSW Sydney Showground Stadium Trevor Griffin Rachael Haynes 2

Media coverageEdit

WBBL|01–WBBL|03Edit

The 2015–16 Women's Big Bash League season was initially scheduled to have eight of the 59 matches air live on Australian free-to-air network One.[20][21] Impressive television ratings convinced Network Ten to move the broadcast of the first-ever Melbourne derby between the Stars and Renegades to their main channel.[22] The all-Sydney clashes between the Thunder and the Sixers on 2 January and the final on 24 January were likewise upgraded, whilst the broadcast schedule was also expanded to include the two semi-finals on One.[23][24]

Network Ten broadcast eleven games of the 2016–17 Women's Big Bash League season. The commentary team was again led by Andrew Maher and featured Mel Jones and Lisa Sthalekar alongside Jason Bennett and Pete Lazer.[25][26] Every game was also live streamed via the WBBL page on Facebook[27] and cricket.com.au.[28]

A total of twelve 2017–18 matches were televised on free-to-air by Network Ten, including four on the opening weekend.[29] The remaining 47 matches were live streamed on cricket.com.au and MamaMia as well as the Cricket Australia Live App.

WBBL|04–presentEdit

In April 2018, as part of a new six-year broadcast rights deal, Cricket Australia announced 23 matches of each season (beginning with 2018–19) would be aired live on the Seven Network and simulcast on Fox Sports' dedicated cricket channel Fox Cricket, with the remaining 36 matches to be live streamed on the CA website and app.[30]

Ahead of the 2019–20 season, Cricket Australia announced all 59 matches would also be streamed live and on demand through Kayo Sports.[31]

An additional three games were initially allocated TV coverage on the Seven Network and Fox Cricket for the 2020–21 season, taking the overall number of televised WBBL|06 matches to 26. Alistair Dobson, Cricket Australia's Head of Big Bash Leagues, subsequently said: "The Rebel WBBL is the world's best cricket league for women and keeps getting better, which was reflected in a 21 per cent increase in multichannel audiences last season."[32] After the season was rescheduled to take place entirely in a Sydney hub across a concentrated five-week period, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seven's allocated number of games was altered to a total of 24. On 15 October 2020, Cricket Australia announced Fox Cricket would broadcast an additional twelve matches, bringing the total number of televised WBBL|06 games to 36.[33]

DevelopmentEdit

Tournament structureEdit

In the inaugural season, teams were required to play games in sporadic clusters, such as twice in an afternoon or four times across three days.[34] They were also forced to occasionally meet in neutral cities, with the most notable occurrence being the WBBL|03 final played between the Sydney Sixers and the Perth Scorchers at the Adelaide Oval.[35] Although such practices have become less common, they are yet to be completely eliminated.[36]

The WBBL featured matches that were played as curtain-raisers to the men's Big Bash League until moving to a standalone format for the 2019–20 edition.[36] Ahead of the 2018–19 season, Cricket Australia announced it would begin to introduce spectator admission fees for the league, starting with matches in Sydney.[37] The WBBL|04 final at Drummoyne Oval became the league's first match to sell out.[38]

Matches are typically played at boutique venues in each state's capital city, such as Junction Oval in Melbourne and Allan Border Field in Brisbane.[36] However, regional centres have also embraced the opportunity to host WBBL games: on 5 January 2019 at Harrup Park in Mackay, a new record for the league's highest standalone attendance was achieved;[39] in another example, Cricket North West scheduled a weekend free of local cricket to maximise attendance for a WBBL|05 game at West Park Oval in Burnie.[40]

Player salariesEdit

For WBBL|01, players would earn between $3000 and $10,000. This was in addition to the $7000 retainer which all female domestic cricketers would earn playing in the Women's National Cricket League (WNCL). Retainers for national representatives, of which a WBBL team can sign a maximum of five per season, ranged from $19,000 to $49,000 before taking match payments and tour fees into consideration.[41][42][43]

In April 2016, Cricket Australia increased its elite female player payment pool from $2.36 million to $4.24 million for the 2016–17 season. With maximum retainers rising to $65,000 for national representatives and up to $15,000 for the WBBL, the best Australian women cricketers would earn a base salary of around $80,000 before exceeding earnings of six-figures with match payments and tour fees. Minimum retainers also increased, with domestic players earning at least $7000 in the WBBL and $11,000 in the WNCL. Australia's top domestic female cricketers would earn $26,000.[43]

In August 2017, after extensive negotiations with the Australian Cricketers' Association, Cricket Australia announced it would increase total female player payments from $7.5 million to $55.2 million. The deal, hailed as the biggest pay rise in the history of women's sport in Australia,[44] meant domestic players in 2017–18 would earn at least $25,659 in the WNCL and a minimum of $10,292 (average of $19,926) in the WBBL.[45] For 2021–22, the last year of the deal, domestic and national team players would earn an average of $58,000 and $211,000 respectively.[46]

The table below details the rise in minimum and average earnings of domestic players (those playing in both the WBBL and WNCL) and nationally contracted players since the inaugural Women's Big Bash League season:

Salaries of women's cricketers in Australia
Season Domestic player[c] National player[d]
Minimum Average Minimum Average
2015–16 $10,000 $13,000 $19,000 $59,000
2016–17 $18,000 $22,000 $40,000 $79,000
2017–18 $35,951 $55,000 $72,076 $179,000
2021–22 $38,871 $58,000 $87,609 $211,000

Quality of productEdit

ScoringEdit

Commentators have praised the rising standard of cricket displayed throughout the WBBL's early years, particularly the improved striking ability of batters.[47][48] The inaugural season was typically dominated by bowlers, with the run rate sitting at 6.29 across the competition. By the 2018–19 season, it had increased to 7.31 with batters clearing the rope nearly three-times as often.[49] Although the rate of scoring remained steady from WBBL|04 to WBBL|05, the frequency of wickets taken and sixes hit decreased, indicating a more conservative approach by both batters and bowlers. This could possibly be attributed to the tournament's shift to the start of the summer, when pitches tend to be slower and less conducive to attacking play.[50][51]

The table below details the progression of runs scored and wickets taken (per 120 balls) as well as total sixes hit and centuries scored across the first five seasons:

Statistical progression in the WBBL
Season Runs Wkts 6s 100s
2015–16 126 6.7 111 1
2016–17 129 6.0 162 1
2017–18 133 6.2 206 3
2018–19 146 6.4 270 6
2019–20 146 5.8 252 3

Sources:[52][53][54][55][56]

FieldingEdit

The 2015–16 final was noted for a poor level of fielding as both teams succumbed to the occasion's high pressure.[57] Conversely, the "incredible"[58] semi-finals three seasons later at Drummoyne Oval featured exciting endings determined by "miracle"[58] catching and run out plays which drew widespread acclaim.[59][60][61] In an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald, former Australian cricketer Geoff Lawson highlighted these moments of "precision" as a sign that the league had rapidly transformed into a "serious professional sporting competition" which justified CA's investment in women's cricket.[62]

Overseas playersEdit

The level of competition in the WBBL is enhanced by luring many of the best overseas players to Australian shores, with each team allowed up to three "marquee" signings of cricketers from other countries. South African bowler Marizanne Kapp (member of the Sydney Sixers) and New Zealand all-rounder Sophie Devine (member of the Adelaide Strikers before moving to the Perth Scorchers) are among the international signings who have been permanent fixtures in the league.[63][64] However, in November 2019, after some WBBL squads had been heavily impacted by conflicting international cricket schedules—particularly teams featuring Indian and English players—newly appointed CA board member Mel Jones cited a need for greater cooperation between nations to give the league a clearer window.[65]

Australian playersEdit

Another feature of the league is the ongoing presence of all leading Australian female players, such as Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry.[66] This is a stark contrast to the BBL, in which many of the top male Australian players—including David Warner and Pat Cummins—are rarely able to participate due to Test and ODI commitments.[67] Consequently, the WBBL is seen as an optimal means of fast-tracking the development of the country's most promising young players, enabling them to gain first-hand experience from world-class team mates and opponents.[68][69] Ashleigh Gardner and Sophie Molineux are two examples of teenagers performing strongly in the league before quickly going on to earn national selection by the age of 20.[70][71]

Tournament resultsEdit

Season summariesEdit

Season Champions Most runs Most wickets Player of the Tournament Young Gun award Sources
2015–16 Sydney Thunder Meg Lanning (MLS) – 560 Rene Farrell (SYT) – 26 Meg Lanning (MLS) Lauren Cheatle (SYT) [72][73][74][75][76]
2016–17 Sydney Sixers Meg Lanning (MLS) – 503 Sarah Aley (SYS) – 28 Beth Mooney (BRH) Ashleigh Gardner (SYS) [77][78][79][80][81]
2017–18 Sydney Sixers Ellyse Perry (SYS) – 552 Aley (SYS), Brunt (PRS) – 23 Amy Satterthwaite (MLR) Sophie Molineux (MLR) [82][83][84][85][86]
2018–19 Brisbane Heat Ellyse Perry (SYS) – 777 Graham (PRS), Kimmince (BRH) – 22 Ellyse Perry (SYS) Georgia Wareham (MLR) [87][88][89][90][91]
2019–20 Brisbane Heat Sophie Devine (ADS) – 769 Molly Strano (MLR) – 24 Sophie Devine (ADS) Hannah Darlington (SYT) [92][93][94][95][96]
2020–21 Sydney Thunder Beth Mooney (PRS) – 551 Sammy-Jo Johnson (SYT) – 22 Sophie Devine (PRS) Darcie Brown (ADS) [97][98][99][100][101]

Final summariesEdit

Final 1st innings 2nd innings Result Player of the Final Venue
2015–16
(WBBL|01)
Sydney Sixers
7/115 (20 overs)
Sydney Thunder
7/116 (19.3 overs)
Thunder won by 3 wickets
Scorecard
Erin Osborne
(Sydney Thunder)
Melbourne Cricket Ground[e]
Melbourne, VIC
2016–17
(WBBL|02)
Sydney Sixers
5/124 (20 overs)
Perth Scorchers
7/117 (20 overs)
Sixers won by 7 runs
Scorecard
Sarah Aley
(Sydney Sixers)
WACA Ground[e]
Perth, WA
2017–18
(WBBL|03)
Perth Scorchers
99 (20 overs)
Sydney Sixers
1/100 (15 overs)
Sixers won by 9 wickets
Scorecard
Sarah Coyte
(Sydney Sixers)
Adelaide Oval[e]
Adelaide, SA
2018–19
(WBBL|04)
Sydney Sixers
7/131 (20 overs)
Brisbane Heat
7/132 (19.2 overs)
Heat won by 3 wickets
Scorecard
Beth Mooney
(Brisbane Heat)
Drummoyne Oval[f]
Sydney, NSW
2019–20
(WBBL|05)
Adelaide Strikers
7/161 (20 overs)
Brisbane Heat
4/162 (18.1 overs)
Heat won by 6 wickets
Scorecard
Beth Mooney
(Brisbane Heat)
Allan Border Field[g]
Brisbane, QLD
2020–21
(WBBL|06)
Melbourne Stars
9/86 (20 overs)
Sydney Thunder
3/87 (13.4 overs)
Thunder won by 7 wickets
Scorecard
Shabnim Ismail
(Sydney Thunder)
North Sydney Oval
Sydney, NSW

Team performanceEdit

Team 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18 2018–19 2019–20 2020–21
Adelaide Strikers 7th 8th 4th (SF) 6th 2nd (RU) 6th
Brisbane Heat 6th 3rd (SF) 5th 3rd (C) 1st (C) 2nd (SF)
Hobart Hurricanes 2nd (SF) 4th (SF) 8th 8th 7th 8th
Melbourne Renegades 8th 7th 6th 4th (SF) 4th (SF) 7th
Melbourne Stars 5th 5th 7th 7th 8th 1st (RU)
Perth Scorchers 4th (SF) 2nd (RU) 3rd (RU) 5th 3rd (SF) 4th (SF)
Sydney Sixers 3rd (RU) 1st (C) 1st (C) 1st (RU) 5th 5th
Sydney Thunder 1st (C) 6th 2nd (SF) 2nd (SF) 6th 3rd (C)

Legend
C = Champion; RU = Runner-up; SF = Semifinalist; 1st = Ladder position after regular season

Statistics and recordsEdit

All-time statsEdit

BattingEdit

BowlingEdit

Fielding and miscellaneousEdit

  • Most catches (fielder): Erin Burns (HBH, SYS) – 48
  • Most dismissals (wicket-keeper): Alyssa Healy (SYS) – 80 (46 catches, 34 stumpings)
  • Most Player of the Match awards:
  1. Sophie Devine (ADS, PRS) – 20
  2. Meg Lanning (MLS, PRS), Beth Mooney (BRH, PRS), Ellyse Perry (SYS) – 17 each
  3. Alyssa Healy (SYS) – 15
  4. Elyse Villani (MLS, PRS) – 10
  5. Amy Satterthwaite (HBH, MLR), Stafanie Taylor (ADS, SYT) – 9 each
  6. Grace Harris (BRH, MLR), Sophie Molineux (MLR) – 8 each

TeamEdit

  • Win–Loss records:
Team M Won Lost Tied NR W–L%
Adelaide Strikers 85 39 44 0 2 46.99
Brisbane Heat 89 53 35 0 1 59.55
Hobart Hurricanes 83 26 56 0 1 31.71
Melbourne Renegades 85 35 48 0 2 42.17
Melbourne Stars 85 35 47 0 3 42.68
Perth Scorchers 90 47 42 0 1 52.22
Sydney Sixers 91 56 34 0 1 62.22
Sydney Thunder 88 50 35 0 3 58.82

Single-season recordsEdit

  • Most Player of the Match awards:
    • Meg Lanning (MLS) – 6 (WBBL|01)
    • Ellyse Perry (SYS) – 6 (WBBL|04)
    • Sophie Devine (ADS) – 6 (WBBL|05)
  • Team:
    • Most wins:
      • Sydney Sixers – 12 (WBBL|03)
      • Brisbane Heat – 12 (WBBL|05)
    • Best NRR: Brisbane Heat –  +1.118  (WBBL|04)
    • Most losses:
      • Hobart Hurricanes – 12 (WBBL|03, WBBL|04)
      • Melbourne Stars – 12 (WBBL|05)
    • Worst NRR: Hobart Hurricanes –  −1.733  (WBBL|03)

Source:[102]

Hat-tricksEdit

The following is a list of hat-tricks taken in the WBBL:

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Administrative and training base
  2. ^ Primary venue used in most recent season. WBBL|05 primary venue shown for non-Sydney teams—games in their home city were not scheduled for WBBL|06 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. ^ Players holding a contract with both a WNCL and WBBL team
  4. ^ Players holding a Cricket Australia national contract
  5. ^ a b c Venue determined by men's BBL final
  6. ^ Venue determined by higher-ranked finalist
  7. ^ Venue determined by minor premier
  8. ^ Excluding shortened matches

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