Big WBBL finals shift amid Covid changes

Cricket officials are ploughing on towards a massive summer, but early games in Sydney are being moved from the schedule.

The summer Covid jigsaw is set to claim more games of cricket in Sydney as the WBBL revamps it finals system to reward the best-performed team with direct passage to a home grand final.

The opening matches of the WBBL season, scheduled to start on October 14, are set to be moved from North Sydney Oval and Bankstown amid the ongoing Covid crisis in NSW as the juggling act continues for Cricket Australia.

Several domestic men’s one-day games due to be played from this weekend have already been postponed and are yet to be rescheduled.

But officials are ploughing on with the full intent of playing all fixtures, including the 56 matches of the WBBL season that will finish with a new finals system.

“We are committed to ensuring cricket remains a leading sport for women and girls by holding a full, safe and successful Weber WBBL|07 season,” Big Bash Leagues general manager Alistair Dobson said.

“We learnt many lessons from staging full WBBL and BBL seasons last summer and are confident of another safe and successful summer ahead.

“We’ll continue to work with our clubs, state and territory governments, health authorities and broadcasters in the lead-up to the Weber WBBL|07 season, which remains on track to begin on October 14.”

As well as earning a new naming rights sponsor, Weber Barbecues, officials have decided to change the finals system.

Last year’s minor premiers, the Melbourne Stars, were forced to play three finals, none at home, after losing their opening final and eventually lost the decider to the Sydney Thunder

This season, four of the eight teams still qualify for the finals, but the team that finishes on top will progress straight to, and host, the decider on November 27.

The venue for the final, however, could still be dependent on border restrictions.

A true “home” final for either of the NSW or Victorian teams, for example, could be entirely dependent on the restrictions in place at the time.

The teams that finish second through to fourth will play their finals at the same venue across two days, with third to play fourth. The winner of that match then plays second for the right to face off against the top-placed team in the final.

Those games are set to be played at the home venue of the second placed team, again pending border restrictions and public health conditions.

Dobson said the new finals system created “more incentive than ever” to finish on top.

“Not only will teams have a guaranteed path to the final, they’ll also have the backing of a strong home crowd,” he said.

“The league views the final as a marquee moment in the summer of Big Bash.”

Originally published as Cricket: WBBL set to change as a revamped finals system comes into play

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