The third season of the Rebel WBBL will begin with a bang when North Sydney and Adelaide host the competition's Opening Weekend on 9-10 December, Cricket Australia announced today.
All eyes will be on the WBBL as Opening Weekend takes place more than a week before the KFC BBL season begins and between the second and third men's Ashes Test matches.
Introduced last summer, Opening Weekend will this year feature four matches at North Sydney Oval – all live on Network Ten – culminating in a Sydney Smash on Sunday 10 December.
The WBBL|03 schedule revealed today contains 59 matches in 57 days across more than 20 venues, with all roads leading to the final on 4 February.
"We're very excited to be able to announce the BBL and WBBL schedules for the upcoming season, and we expect this to the biggest yet thanks to the increased number of matches and the growing popularity of both competitions," said Cricket Australia Executive General Manager of Events and Leagues, Anthony Everard.
"We know the MOU is still being finalised, but we are confident this won't affect the upcoming BBL and WBBL season, and we're looking forward to welcoming a huge number of travelling fans who are coming out for the Ashes. This will help them plan their ultimate summer in Australia.
"Both the BBL and WBBL are firm family favourites during the summer school holidays, and with even more matches we hope fans will continue to vote with their feet, support their club, and help us surpass last year's attendance, which exceeded 1 million for the second consecutive season."
Fans will again be able to see every ball of every game live and free with 12 match to be broadcast around the country on Network Ten, along with the remaining 47 matches streamed on cricket.com.au and the CA Live app.
"Network Ten's ongoing commitment to both the WBBL and BBL means fans around the country can enjoy more of the Big Bash action," Everard said.
"Starting with the standalone opening weekend, Network Ten will be broadcasting 12 matches of the WBBL, reinforcing their commitment to growing women's cricket in Australia."
The third edition of the WBBL again features blockbuster double-headers with BBL matches, including the New Year's Eve clash in Adelaide and the Melbourne Derby at the MCG on 6 January.
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The Strikers begin their season at home on Opening Weekend with back-to-back matches against the Hurricanes. The Strikers will feature in two TV games – the NYE clash against Brisbane Heat and a match-up with the Scorchers on 13 January at a venue still to be announced. In addition to the two matches over Opening Weekend, the Strikers will play a further five matches in their home state.
The Heat open their season on 10 December in North Sydney against the Scorchers and return to the bright lights of national television on New Year's Eve against the Strikers at the Adelaide Oval. The Heat will feature in five matches played in Queensland, including a W/BBL double-header at the Gabba on 27 January.
The Hurricanes will play seven matches in their home state, including W/BBL double-headers at Blundstone Arena in Hobart and UTAS Stadium in Launceston. Hobart will be live around the country on Network Ten when they take on the Sixers at the SCG on 23 December, as well as a match against the Stars at the MCG on 27 January leading into the finals.
The Renegades begin their campaign against the Thunder in North Sydney live on Network Ten and again feature on national TV in the second MCG Melbourne Derby on 20 January. The Renegades will play eight of their 14 matches in Victoria, including a pair of matches at Camberwell Sports Ground.
The Stars are straight into primetime with a season opener against the Sixers at North Sydney Oval, and the team in green will again feature live on national TV later in the season with a pair of matches at the MCG. The Stars will play a total of four games at Melbourne's sporting coliseum, as well as taking the action out to Casey Fields for two games.
The Scorchers won't have to wait long for their chance to avenge last season's defeat in the final when they take on the Sixers on 12 December. Five Scorchers matches contain venues that are still to be revealed, but the WBBL|02 finalists have four matches locked in at #TheFurnace.
The Sixers open the season in hectic fashion with three matches – against the Stars, Thunder and Scorchers – in just four days. The Sixers will play nine of their 14 matches in various parts of NSW, including three games live on Network Ten.
Just like their cross-town rivals, the Thunder begin their WBBL|03 campaign with three matches in four days against Renegades, Sixers and Stars respectively. While several Thunder games currently contain venues still to be announced, the side's matches on the Opening Weekend will both be shown live on Network Ten.
TV Broadcast Matches
(live on Ten unless stated otherwise)
9 December – Melbourne Renegades vs Sydney Thunder
9 December – Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Stars
10 December – Perth Scorchers vs Brisbane Heat
10 December – Sydney Thunder vs Sydney Sixers
23 December – Sydney Sixers vs Hobart Hurricanes
31 December – Adelaide Strikers vs Brisbane Heat
13 January – Adelaide Strikers vs Perth Scorchers
20 January – Melbourne Stars vs Melbourne Renegades
27 January – Melbourne Stars vs Hobart Hurricanes
1 February – Semi-Final (live on One)
2 February – Semi-Final (live on One)
4 February – Final