Women’s cricket will receive a massive boost next month when the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) starts.
Running in tandem with the men’s BBL, it will be played over the Christmas-New Year holiday period, culminating with the January 24 Final, preceding the men’s BBL Final.
All eight BBL franchises will be represented in the WBBL. Sadly there’s no spot for the ACT Meteors, who play in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL).
The WBBL has attracted some of the best domestic players, including Southern Stars captain Meg Lanning (Melbourne Stars), Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy (Sydney Sixers), Holly Ferling (Brisbane Heat). The Perth Scorchers have splashed on internationals, including the West Indies’ Deandra Dottin – described as “the female Chris Gayle” – England’s Charlotte Edwards and Katherine Brunt, and New Zealand captain Suzie Bates.
The WBBL continues the rise of women’s cricket, especially at international level. The Southern Stars are number one in ICC rankings (combining Test, ODI and Twenty20 results) after winning the Ashes four games to three. They beat England in the one-off Test and won the ODI series 2-1. While England won the Twenty20 series 2-1, the Stars’ win in the second Twenty 20 game secured the Ashes. They also beat Ireland’s Twenty20 side 3-0.
The Stars have gained crucial exposure through Twenty20 cricket, with a handful of international matches telecast live on Channel Nine before the men’s games.
In January 2016, the Australia v India Twenty20 series will be combined with the Southern Stars’ T20 series against India, including a blockbuster Australia Day double header at Adelaide Oval. Following that, the Stars play three ODIs against India in Canberra and Hobart.
International women’s cricket began 1934/35, when England toured Australia and New Zealand. It expanded to South Africa (1960), India (1976), West Indies (1976), Pakistan (1998), Sri Lanka (1998), Ireland (2000) and Netherlands (2007). Test matches have been sporadic: England (92 Tests) and Australia (71) have played the most, followed by New Zealand (45), India (36), South Africa and West Indies (12 each). Ireland, Netherlands, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have played a combined six Tests since 1998.
One-day cricket, beginning in 1973, is far more popular, with England (289 games), New Zealand (278), Australia (275) and India (211) the dominant nations. The Southern Stars have dominated the Women’s World Cup with six titles, followed by England (three) and New Zealand (one). The 2017 World Cup is in England.
Introduced in 2004, Twenty20 has run concurrently with ODIs as the main form of international and domestic competition. There have been Twenty20 World Cups; England won in 2009 and the Southern Stars have won the last three (2010, 2012, 2014). India will host the 2016 tournament.
The WNCL limited-overs competition (the Ruth Preddey Cup) has been around since 1996-97, with NSW Breakers, South Australian Scorpions, Queensland Fire, Victorian Spirit, ACT, Western (Australia) Fury and Tasmanian Roar. The Breakers and Spirit have dominated the competition. NSW have played in 19 consecutive finals for 17 titles, while the Spirit have won two (2002-03 and 2004-05) and lost 10 finals. The Breakers qualified for a 20th consecutive final – against the Scorpions – on Sunday November 29.