Cricket Australia (CA) has announced that the 2020-21 KFC Big Bash League (BBL) has been moved forward to commence in early December as the competition tries to find its sweet spot.
The 2020-21 BBL and Women’s BBL fixtures were announced by CA on Wednesday morning, following a summer where the men’s schedule was criticised for dragging on too long outside of school holidays and not enabling enough international players, particularly Australian representatives, to participate.
With that in mind, the BBL has been brought forward to commence on Thursday 3 December, with the regular season running through until Australia Day on Tuesday 26 January, which extends throughout the school holidays to maximise potential family attendance and TV viewership. The BBL Final will take place on Saturday 6 February.
The 2019-20 BBL started on December 17, so the new fixtures represent a two-week shift forward for the competition, while the WBBL will be played in October and November.
CA Head of Big Bash Leagues Alistair Dobson said the announcement would enhance the popularity of the BBL and came after feedback from clubs, broadcasters and others stakeholders.
“Scheduling in the time of coronavirus is not without its challenges, as we have seen in elite sporting conditions at home and abroad, and there are factors outside the League itself which could impact the fixture at a later date,” Dobson said.
“That said, at this time, we are happy with the fixture as it stands and excited to celebrate a decade of Big Bash with Australian fans during the summer.
“It should ensure that more BBL matches are played in prime time and enable the regular season to again finish inside the school holidays which was a key objective, particularly in light of the busy international schedule planned for the coming summer.
“We will also be making more announcements in due course about enhancements to the League that we are confident will excite and delight fans across the country.”
The CA announcement focused on TV viewership, acknowledging the threat of COVID-19 on crowds being able to attend matches, with coronavirus numbers relatively well managed in Australia, until a recent outbreak in Victoria.
“As with all sporting competitions around the world, we must remain vigilant and agile in responding to the COVID-19 situation as it develops and we will continue to work with all relevant federal and state government agencies, biosecurity experts, venues, clubs, players, broadcast partners and our own internal teams to ensure a safe and successful summer,” Dobson said.
“We’ll continue to act in accordance with public health advice and government protocols to ensure the safety of the public, players and support staff.”