Cricket Australia, on Friday, announced a change in the schedule for Rebel Big Bash League 2020, by shifting all the matches to Sydney. The city of Sydney will now play host to all the 59 matches, starting from the weekend of October 25. This decision was taken to comply with the travel and bio-restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) September 4, 2020
This new list of fixtures saw quite a few changes from the initial schedule released in July. The tournament was slated to start a week earlier on 17th October, with only a 3-week period where all matches are played in different stadiums across Sydney. The initial schedule also had a weekend slotted for games taking place at the same time across 6 state capitals of Australia, but the plan had to be scrapped to stay in line with Government regulations to control the pandemic.
Some of the stadiums across Sydney that could host the matches are North Sydney Oval, Hurstville Oval, and Blacktown International Sports Park. In addition to this, more venues, fixture dates along with information on the bio-secure hub and attendance details, will be announced by Cricket Australia in the coming days.
Despite the initial schedule in July, the players’ had a feeling that the tournament will be restricted to a single hub, having watched other sporting events conducted in the same fashion. “Now there’s that little bit of clarity around what the season is going to look like, everyone is able to prepare for that,” Jess Jonassen, captain of the Brisbane Heat, said in an interview to cricket.com.au.
Speaking on the return of women’s cricket in Australia and the challenges facing them, Jess said, “I think everyone is just really excited to get out on the field and start playing some cricket again. The fact that it has to be in a hub and in Sydney, it’s not too big a deal for a lot of us. Particularly for us Australian players, it feels like another tour.”
Jess’ team, Brisbane Heat, played just 3 games in the WBBL at their home stadium, and are used to playing in foreign conditions. The Australian all-rounder said that cricket players will deal better with pandemic procedures than footballers, since they are used to being away on long tours, but admits 5 weeks could be a stretch. “I think that’s going to be really key and really important for our squad, (to) manage to keep people fresh when cricket seems to be the one and only focus for that period. There’s obviously going to be a lot of challenges along the way, it’s not going to be easy, but everyone is looking forward to it,” she said.
In addition to this, this season’s WBBL will see at least 7 high school students, who will have to attend online classes, along with their matches. One such high schooler, Hayley Silver-Holmes of the Sydney Sixers, said, “I’d be going back to online learning, which we already had during the school lockdown earlier this year. It’s different, but once you’re used to it it’s all right.”
Travel and safety arrangements will also be announced for the current 17 and potentially more overseas players to make the trip safe and sound. WBBL will take place after the Aussies face off against their neighbors, New Zealand, in an ODI and T20I series scheduled from 26th September-7th October. This will make these arrangements easier for the 7 Kiwi’s registered to play in the Rebel BBL.
Here’s hoping for an exciting and safe WBBL 2020!
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