The seventh edition of Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) turned out to be a great success despite the sudden increase in Covid-19 cases ahead of the league, which raised concerns for the organizing committee causing last moment rescheduling of the matches due to border closures. In fact, just days before the Finals, the news around the new Covid Variant found in South Africa created panic among many and it was just 24 hours before Western Australia closed its border with South Australia that the Adelaide Strikers who played the Challengers at their home ground, traveled to Perth for the Finals.
Adhering to the Covid-19 norms laid out by the government, WBBL was conducted from October 14 to November 27 and to everyone’s surprise, was one of the best seasons in the history of WBBL with not only a number of record-breaking performances by the players but a record-breaking viewership by the fans as well.
WBBL07 creates viewership records 😍 #WBBL07 @WBBL pic.twitter.com/dIIy6h1pN8
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) November 28, 2021
Hosting the first-ever WBBL decider, the Opus Stadium in Perth saw a standalone crowd of 15,511 coming to witness the home favorites, Perth Scorchers win their maiden WBBL title beating Adelaide Strikers in the Finals. In fact, it wasn’t just the record number of people in the stadium, the Finals saw a combined average audience of 535,000 tuning in across TV and streaming platforms, suppressing the previous highest 506,000 at the time of WBBL|04 Finals.
From broadcasting just ten games on the Ten Network during the inaugural season, to now broadcasting all 59 matches live on Fox Sports and Channel 7 with a record 5.36 million viewers tuning in across the season, a 15 percent increase from last season’s cumulative average audience, WBBL|07 would have given Cricket Australia a major boost for the next season with a hope to occupy the primetime slots as well.
In a conversation with cricket.com.au, the Big Bash Leagues Chief, Alistair Dobson shared the board’s ambition for the next season of WBBL which is scheduled to take place partially alongside the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup to be held in Australia itself from October 16 to November 13.
He said, “Our ambition would be to maintain our (broadcast) footprint, and the next evolution of that is not only to have the big weekends that the WBBL is known for but also starting to build that blockbuster footprint,”
“Next year, whether it’s Friday nights or Thursday nights, a bit more regularity in that primetime space is something that I think is the next evolution for next year.”
Talking about the clash with the World Cup, he said, “It’s (WBBL) the strongest cricket league in the world for women if not (the strongest) full stop, and we’ll work really hard and smartly around how we schedule around that World Cup.”
“But in some respects, that gives us an opportunity.
“There’ll be so much hype and interest in cricket broadly (at that time) and we’ll have the best female players playing in the WBBL and the best male players in the World Cup and I think both events can really help drive momentum into the other.”
WBBL|07 saw some record-breaking performances along with the emergence of great young talents. India’s T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur who represented Melbourne Renegades was named as the Player of the Tournament with 31 votes, becoming the first Indian and just the third international player to receive the award at the WBBL. The all-time highest run-scorer of WBBL and the ICC No. 1 ranked T20 batter, Beth Mooney received the BKT Golden Bat after finishing at the top of the individual run-scorer tally for this season with 547 runs while Amanda-Jade Wellington took the BKT Golden Arm with 23 wickets.
“From an on-field perspective, I thought it was the year that the competition turned the corner in terms of just the sheer depth of the talent involved,” Dobson said
“Eight really competitive teams have all got (10 or more) players that are becoming household names.
“When you look at the types of players that Channel Seven are using on the mic on broadcast, they’re so varied, and each one of them brings such a unique perspective and storylines.
“I think pretty quickly fans are realizing this. Every game you can tune in and watch or go to, there’s something really unique happening,” he added.
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