Women Cricket’s elite competition is just a couple of weeks away, with some of the biggest names in the women’s game set to lock horns from the 25th of October in the Women’s Big Bash League. In the schedule announced earlier by Cricket Australia, it was confirmed that the full 59-match season will take place in the city of Sydney. The first day of the tournament will witness all the eight teams face off in what will kick-start this festival of cricket. In the lead up to the 6th season of WBBL, we look back at its’ remarkable history.
Summary of WBBL 2015-16 season
The first season of WBBL was aptly described by ESPNcricinfo, as “the tournament that kick-started a renaissance”.
WBBL was the first-ever tournament in women’s cricket that introduced the franchisee model in the sport and led to greater participation by girls than ever before. WBBL kicked off with 8 teams and has maintained the healthy participation, thanks to ever-growing TV viewership ratings and stadium attendance. The finals of the first edition saw Elysse Perry’s Sydney Sixers take on her compatriot, Alex Blackwell’s Sydney Thunder. The Sixers overcame Hobart Hurricanes in the low-scoring encounter of the first semi-finals, whereas Sydney Thunder registered a victory against Perth Scorchers in the second.
The first-ever finals of the WBBL embodied the immense potential of the women’s game, with two equally matched sides going toe-to-toe in a thrilling finale. Sixers notched up just 115 on the board batting first, thanks to exceptional bowling by Erin Osborne of the Thunders. Her figures of 3/21 proved to be the difference, as Sydney Thunder laid hands on the first-ever WBBL trophy, thanks to a narrow 3-wicket victory, with 3 balls to spare.
Winner: Sydney Thunder
Summary of WBBL 2016-17 season
Like the first one, the second episode of the WBBL was played alongside the men’s tournament of the same name. This is also the season that saw participation from Indian players for the first time, with Smriti Mandhana plying her trade for the Brisbane Heat. She was joined down under by her teammate, Harmanpreet Kaur, who joined the defending champions, Sydney Thunder.
In the 2016-17 season, Sydney Sixers established their dominance in the elite women’s cricket league. They managed to find a spot in the finals of the tournament, for the second successive time and came up against Perth Scorchers, led by their marquees player, Suzie Bates. In a repeat of the first season’s semi-finals, Sixers defeated Hobart Hurricanes, while Perth Scorchers won against first-time semi-finalists, Brisbane Heat.
Sixers turned out to be second-time lucky, winning the finale by just 7 runs, thanks to solid performances from Australian superstar, Alyssa Healy, and 4 wickets from local talent, Sarah Aley.
Winner: Sydney Sixers
Summary of WBBL 2017-18 season
The 3rd season of the Rebel Big Bash League saw three semi-finalists of the first season making it into the Top 4. As has been with the theme with every WBBL season, Sydney Sixers qualified for the semis, after topping the group table twice in three years. They were joined by the champion and semi-finalist of the first season, Sydney Thunder and Perth Scorchers.
Perth Scorchers’ 148 in the first semi-final against Sydney Thunder proved to be more than enough, as they went on to win comfortably by a 27 run margin at their home-ground in the magnificent Optus Stadium. The second semis saw Sixers dominate first-time semi-finalists, Adelaide Strikers. In their road to the semis, Sixers notched up a world-record score of 242/4 against Melbourne Stars in the group stages, and their captain, Elysse Perry had a sensational season, scoring 552 runs at an average of 46.
Sydney Sixers seemed to have harnessed all the experience from the previous two finals, and thoroughly brushed aside their opponents in the finals. In one of the most one-sided matches in WBBL history, Sixers cleaned up the Perth batting lineup for just 99 runs, before chasing down the small total with 5 overs and 9 wickets in hand.
Winner: Sydney Sixers
Summary of WBBL 2018-19 season
The last season to be held alongside the men’s BBL saw Sydney Sixers finish on top of the ladder once again, after the 14-match group stage. Records came tumbling down this season, as Sixers captain, Perry, took apart every bowling lineup on her rampaging path. She scored 777 runs at an astonishing average of 86.33, which included 2 centuries and 6 half-centuries. Sydney Sixers were also the team to have recorded the highest batting total for the season – 206/1.
A record-breaking 777 runs including two centuries and six half centuries and ten wickets with the ball!
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) January 26, 2019
Having blown aside every opposition on their path, Sixers faltered in the final stage of the hurdle. The girls in pink underperformed against first-time finalist, Brisbane Heat. Led by Kirby Short, they managed to restrict their opposition to a modest total of 131. Despite Sixers’ best efforts, the batting depth of Brisbane Heat proved effective, and sealed the victory with 4 balls to spare, lifting their first-ever WBBL trophy.
Winner: Brisbane Heat
Summary of WBBL 2019-20 season
The fifth edition of Rebel WBBL saw the tournament feature as a standalone event, and the updated schedule announced that the women’s league will be played prior to the men’s event. Before this season, WBBL was typically scheduled in the first week of December, alongside the start of the men’s edition. With the new schedule, the women’s tournament was moved to October and was to be followed by the men’s BBL in December. Along with this, new TV and sponsorship deals meant that women cricket was made more accessible than ever to people all around the world.
In a first, Sydney Strikers failed to qualify for the knockout stages, with Brisbane Heat, Melbourne Renegades, Perth Scorchers, and Adelaide Strikers taking their place in the last 4. Defending champions, Brisbane Heat faced off against the Strikers in the finale. Adelaide seemed to have won the match after posting a massive total of 161/7 on board, but Beth Mooney’s sensational ball-striking helped Heat retain the trophy.
The top two batting scores of the tournament were registered by the Sixers, who ended up with 199/0 and 192/6 against Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunders, respectively.
Winner: Brisbane Heat
Your average cricket enthusiast. Loves to write about what he loves to watch.