Women’s Big Bash League: All you need to know about this year’s tournament


Brisbane Heat celebrate title
Brisbane Heat are two-time defending champions but their squad has been weakened this year

The Women’s Big Bash returns on Sunday, and while things will be a little different this year, the tournament will still feature the world’s best players in its sixth edition.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all 59 matches will be held in Sydney across five venues with the players all staying in hotels at Sydney’s Olympic Park.

BBC Sport looks at what to expect from this year’s tournament.

Why should I follow?

The Big Bash is widely seen as the best domestic women’s competition in the world.

It features Australia’s all-conquering world champions, most of whom return to action fresh from a record-equalling 21st consecutive one-day international victory, a host of England and other international stars, plus the best domestic talent from down under.

Big Bash players at Olympic Village
The players will stay at Sydney’s Olympic Park which held the Olympics in 2000

This will be the second year the eight-team tournament has been held as a stand-alone event, separate from the men’s Big Bash, and it will once again be given extensive free-to-air exposure in Australia.

There may not be the 86,174 people that attended the Women’s T20 World Cup final in Melbourne in March but grounds will be open to spectators at reduced capacity for many matches, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Matches with crowds will largely be on weekends with children able to attend for free.

Which England players are playing?

England captain Heather Knight moved to Sydney Thunder for this year’s competition, where she will play alongside her international team-mate Tammy Beaumont.

Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver have joined Melbourne Stars while Amy Jones and Sarah Glenn are at Perth Scorchers.

Batter Danni Wyatt, who was named in the team of the tournament last year, is absent as she is playing in the T20 Challenge in the United Arab Emirates, as is spinner Sophie Ecclestone.

Heather Knight
World Cup-winning captain Knight has played 55 times in the Big Bash for Hobart Hurricanes

Who else should I watch out for?

Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry have been at the forefront of Australia’s dominance of the women’s game and will once again take centre stage in this year’s Big Bash.

Remarkably, Lanning, a winner of one 50-over World Cup and four T20 World Cups, has never won the Big Bash and has made the switch back to Melbourne Stars after two seasons at Perth Scorchers.

Meg Lanning
Lanning led Australia to T20 World Cup victory in March

The Scorchers will be led by New Zealand’s Sophie Devine, the number one T20 all-rounder in the world and soon to be captain of Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred next summer. Fellow White Fern Suzie Bates will lead the Adelaide Strikers.

There is West Indies representation too with Stafanie Taylor and Hayley Matthews playing for the Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes respectively.

Shabnim Ismail (Sydney Thunder) and Dane van Nierkerk (Sydney Sixers) are two of the South Africa internationals involved.

Who are the favourites?

Brisbane Heat are the two-time defending champions but their hopes have been dented by the loss of Australia opener Beth Mooney, who was signed by the Scorchers to make up for Lanning’s departure.

Mooney has won the player of the final award in the past two seasons and was the top run-scorer in the T20 World Cup earlier this year.

Sydney Sixers, who are two-time winners and two-time beaten finalists, look strong again but will be nervous about the fitness of superstar Perry.

The all-rounder has not played since tearing a hamstring in Australia’s World Cup campaign in March.

The Stars, boosted by the arrivals of Lanning, Sciver and Brunt, look like they could challenge.

How can I follow?

There will be live radio commentary on selected matches available on the BBC Sport website, as well as latest scores, fixtures and reports.

Originally published here: bbc.co.uk

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