OPINION: Cricket Australia Have Broken The WNCL

The announcement of the expansion of the WNCL – the elite domestic 50-over competition in Australia – has been greeted with largely positive headlines… because it is a positive headline.

The WNCL – Women’s National Cricket League – has been running in more-or-less its current format since 1996-97, starting as a home and away league, with a 3-match final series.

This has slowly evolved over the years to the current setup, with 7 teams playing each other once in the league, followed by a one-off final between the top two.

One constant throughout has been New South Wales, who have never failed to reach the final, and have won the tournament 19 times. The only other teams to have won it are Victoria (twice) and South Australia (once).

As with the Women’s County Championship in England, the WNCL has for most of its history been an amateur affair; but the professionalisation of domestic cricket in Australia has now created an opportunity to expand the competition – something the top players have been demanding for a while.

However, instead of going the full distance, and expanding the WNCL (back) to a full “home and away” league, Cricket Australia have chosen the most bizarre compromise – adding just two more matches for each side, so some teams will play each other twice, and others only once.

Although there is a precedent for this in the (Men’s) BBL, where “extra” matches have been scheduled to double-up the number of highly profitable “derbies”, it is still a terrible idea, because it means two teams (ACT and Queensland this coming season) have to play perennial champions New South Wales twice, making a mockery of the balance of the tournament.

Admittedly, this is hardly the end of the world – outside of the women’s cricket bubble, few care about the WNCL, with matches typically attended by only a handful of spectators. But surely the opportunity here was to change that? Instead, Cricket Australia have bottled it and broken the tournament as a genuine sporting contest.

Cricket Australia have led the way in taking the women’s game to remarkable new heights in the past 10 years; but they’ve called this one wrong… and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so!


2 thoughts on “OPINION: Cricket Australia Have Broken The WNCL

  1. Yes, if there is a negative to the WNCL and WBBL, it’s that these competitions are too one-sided with the same teams either winning or getting to the final almost every year. I wouldn’t think that would lead to the sort of competitive environment which would produce world leading teams (there are examples of one sided leagues in other team sports where the league clearly does not serve the national team well), but Australia are so far ahead it doesn’t matter at the moment. But I’d still like to see a player draft or some sort of enforced player transfers in order to keep things interesting. It must be disheartening to be a player stuck in one of the other sides, pretty much knowing from the start you’re not even going to be in the mix for the title.


  2. This compromise may seem “bizarre” to an English commentator, but it needs to be viewed in the Australian context.

    For many years, Australia’s premiere professional football competition, the (men’s) AFL, has operated with 18 teams and a 23 round “home and away” season, in which the teams play each other team once, and only some of the other teams a second time.

    Despite Syd’s comments above, I doubt many Australian commentators would describe that competition as not being a genuine sporting contest.

    The way the AFL addresses imbalances in its “home and away” season is by scheduling repeat matches between teams that finished in similar places the previous season. It seems that the WNCL is being similarly scheduled. As Syd points out, Queensland and the ACT will play NSW twice in 2019-20. Those two teams finished second and fourth, respectively, in 2018-19.


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