Already under tremendous financial stress, Cricket Australia is mulling for a shortened Women’s Big Bash League by 16 matches this summer as part of Coronavirus cost cuts. The men’s and women’s domestic summers are both at risk of being affected by the financial fallout of the virus.
It is understood that options are on the table as CA seeks to reduce its total costs approximately by 25 per cent with one proposal being floated is shortening the WBBL season to 10 games per side, down on the 14 played in all five editions of the tournament. There is also the possibility that games could be played in a limited number of cities, such as Melbourne and Sydney, over a shorter time frame if it cuts costs.
The carnival-style format would allow just as many if not more games to be shown on TV, with broadcasters to maintain their set-up at each ground and double-headers. That would theoretically fall into line with a consideration to reduce the Sheffield Shield from 10 rounds to eight, which has been met with opposition from the players’ union.
“Everything is on the table at the moment, we are exploring all options,” a CA spokesperson said. “Nothing has been confirmed as we try to find the best solution.” There is even a feeling of protest among some domestic players who are growing concerns about how their game will be affected.
Australia internationals Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy have been quite adamant in recent time that time is now to invest in women’s cricket. The game rode high during the T20 World Cup in Australia which saw record crowds and television ratings rake up to a new level.
Even last year’s stand-alone WBBL also stood as a success with an average audience of 191,000 despite a number of games being shown on Seven’s secondary channel. Perry has already stressed that women’s sport should be seen as a growth opportunity for all codes.
“You cut games and people aren’t going to get that game experience,” Perry’s Australia teammate Sophie Molineux said. “To improve and develop as sportspeople, you want to be out there in the thick of it. Being involved in the WBBL over the past five or six years, to see how far that’s come over the time – we’d be pretty silly to take a step back from that and stop the momentum.
“But I have every confidence in the people that are making those decisions that they’ll keep women’s cricket and its best interests at heart,” she added. Molineux’s Melbourne Renegades have already been affected, with coach Tim Coyle axed with the club blaming financial challenges as a result of the virus.