Cricket Australia has confirmed that next year's Big Bash League will feature an additional eight matches, but the national governing body has ruled out the possibility of more franchises being added to the Twenty20 competition in the immediate future.
Eight more matches will be played during the 2017-18 BBL campaign, with the total number of regular-season fixtures to increase to 40 from 32. Two semi-finals and the final will take the total number of matches to 43.
The expansion will result in each BBL club being allocated five, and not four, home matches each season, with each franchise to play 10 regular-season fixtures as opposed to eight.
The expansion will mean that more than 100 BBL and Women’s BBL matches will be played next season, with the latter’s 58-match schedule to remain in place.
The BBL has been a major commercial success for Cricket Australia and the organisation said expansion is designed to further broaden cricket’s fan base and attract new audiences to the sport. “We’re always looking at opportunities to grow the game and expand our fan base beyond traditional markets and demographics,” Anthony Everard, head of the BBL, said.
“The scheduling of the additional eight matches in a manner that complements the existing regular-season fixture is aimed at encouraging more people to pick up a bat and ball and give cricket a go. This expansion is designed to drive Cricket Australia’s strategy to ultimately continue to be Australia’s favourite sport and a sport for all Australians.”
The locations of the additional matches have not yet been finalised, although Everard confirmed that the league was working closely with clubs to explore options. He said: “A state-by-state approach will be taken to determine the most appropriate location to host this additional fixture, taking into account aspects including existing contractual obligations, participation and fan growth opportunities, and venue infrastructure.
“The opportunity to expand matches into non-traditional markets is not just limited to the men’s game. We are working to see how we can also schedule Women’s Big Bash League matches in these new venues, once they are finalised.”
Everard also confirmed that the BBL had no current plans to add more franchises to the eight-team league but said it would remain “open-minded” about future expansion plans.
The 2016-17 BBL season concludes tomorrow (Saturday), with the Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers facing off in the final at the WACA stadium in Perth.