The Australian domestic calendar gets started next week, with a very different look to the new season. In fact, there are really two seasons: the 50-over, state-based Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) takes place in October/ November; and is then followed by the city-franchised T20 competition – the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) – in December/ January.
The WNCL begins on October 9th and it is a much shorter competition than in previous years, with each of the 7 sides playing each other just once, with the top two teams qualifying for the final on November 28th.
There is then a very short break before the WBBL gets underway on December 5th. The 8 franchises will play each other twice, with the top four qualifying for semi-finals (January 20th/ 21st) and then the grand final on January 24th.
Both seasons are pretty intense – particularly the WBBL, with 59 matches taking place over just 51 days – it demands a fully-professional commitment from the players; and in recognition of this, Cricket Australia continue to push towards a fully-professional compensation package in return.
A player who competes in both seasons will earn a minimum of $10,000 (about £4,600) and many will earn considerably more. With Cricket Australia having established a total player payment fund of over $2 million, that’s an average of around-about $24,000 (£11,000) per player for a 4-month season, albeit one with considerable “off season” demands.
Will this have the Porsche-dealers of Melbourne and Sydney cracking-open the champagne? Probably not! But on the road to a fully professional domestic game, it is a start, and a very good one too!