Is The Women's Big Bash Morning Final Insulting Or Respectful?
The good news is they get their own time slot. But it's not exactly in prime time.
On Saturday morning, the Sydney Sixers host the Brisbane Heat at the gorgeous harbourside venue Drummoyne Oval for the final of what has been the most successful year of Women's Big Bash League cricket.
Under a blazing Sydney sun, this will be a joyous, inclusive, raucous celebration of Australia's favourite sport on our national day -- and word from insiders is that we're headed for a sellout.
But there's one aspect of the game which is arguably less than ideal.
The start time.
The first ball will be bowled at 10:10 am, and while it's perfectly normal for cricket matches to start in the morning, Twenty20 cricket is rarely played at this time of day. Its three-hour running time makes it perfect for evenings.
So why the early start?
"The reason they’re doing it is Cricket Australia don’t want to run it at the same time as the men's Test. They don’t want two major cricket matches competing," senior cricket journalist Melinda Farrell, of ESPNCricinfo tells 10 daily.
"I don’t think it’s disrespectful. It's just making the best of a not ideal situation."
Farrell has a good point. The fellas are currently playing a day/night Test against Sri Lanka in Brisbane, which means big cricket is already on from about 1 pm AEDT to 8 pm.
The Australian Open tennis finals are also competing for sports-lovers' eyeballs this weekend, and there's another Test for the blokes next weekend, so there really were very few weekend prime time slots available.
"It's not ideal, but it's probably the best they can do at the moment with the season and the fixtures as they are," Farrell says.
In which case you might argue that the villain here is whoever set the cricket schedule before this season.
Despite Farrell's mild reservations about the morning time slot, she is very much glass-half-full about how far women's cricket has come.
"A night final is probably the next step, but each year they've tried to progress and get something better.
"This year the WBBL has had stand-alone semis and finals for the first time, which means the Sixers were able to host matches. Last year the venues for the semis and final were decided by where the men finished."
Sydney Sixers captain and the best player in the WBBL this year, Ellyse Perry, was also upbeat today in her comments about how far the competition has come.
"So much has happened at WBBL level and also at the international cricket level this year," she said.
"This year the broadcast deal has been brilliant for us. We're on live free-to-air as well as Fox Sports... and the crowd numbers have just been phenomenal."
Perry said the "ultimate success" would be if the women started filling big stadiums around the country like the MCG, SCG and Adelaide Oval.
"The sky's the limit," she said.
Which no one doubts. The WBBL has been great this year. Who could believe the incredible last-ball finish which got the Sixers into a super over -- which they won, in order to book their place in their fourth straight final?
Every single thing about that finish was just pure elite cricket. The whole comp has been such high quality this year. As Perry says, the sky's the limit.
You just can't help thinking that more people would attend -- and watch on TV -- a WBBL final held under a night sky. Next year, perhaps.
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