First 20 WBBL matches moved to Tasmania amid Covid disruption

Tasmania will host the first 20 matches of the WBBL season as the tournament is restructured due to the ongoing Covid-19 border closures around Australia.

The competition, which had been due to start in Sydney, will still begin on its original date of October 14 with Sydney Sixers facing Melbourne Stars at Blundstone Arena. Matches will be also be staged at University of Tasmania Stadium and Invermay Park in Launceston.

For now, only the first two weeks of the tournament have been adjusted but there will likely be further amendments for the remaining fixtures. “The League will continue to monitor public health conditions, state border restrictions and their related impacts in relation to the remainder of the Weber WBBL|07 schedule,” a statement said.

ESPNcricinfo understands that players, staff and officials will begin arriving in Tasmania next week. Those coming from New South Wales will be required to undertake two weeks hard quarantine while those traveling from Victoria will also need to quarantine but, currently, will be permitted to train.

Another factor in the Tasmania option was that, currently, the island is open to Queensland which means that players and officials involved in the Australia-India series will be able to fly directly into the competition providing there are no changes to regulations over the next month.

The final T20I of that series had been brought forward a day to allow extra travel time ahead of the WBBL.

“The League and all clubs thank Premier Gutwein and the Tasmanian Government for their support of the WBBL and Australian cricket,” Alistair Dobson, Cricket Australia’s general manager of Big Bash Leagues, said. “We’d also like to thank Cricket Tasmania for the power of work they’ve put in to securing our safe passage to Tasmania and deliver the opening weeks of the tournament. We can’t wait to arrive in Hobart and start our season.”

Tasmania looks likely to lose its scheduled men’s Test between Australia and Afghanistan in late November following Cricket Australia’s stance against the match taking place should the Taliban not allow women to play sport. The Tasmania Premier had previously raised serious concerns of the match.

Last season the WBBL was played entirely in a Sydney-based hub while Tasmania staged one of the opening hubs of the BBL.

“This is fantastic news for Tasmanian cricket and we’re thrilled to be able to play our part in ensuring the season gets away,” Dominic Baker, the Cricket Tasmania CEO, said. “Following on from us hosting the first of the BBL hubs last year, we know this is something we can do, and do well, and we know Tasmanian cricket fans can’t wait to come out and see some of the world’s best female cricketers in action.

“We’re very thankful to the Tasmanian government for their work in making this happen, and we can’t wait for what’s going to be a fantastic celebration of women’s cricket in Tasmania.”

Revised schedule

Oct 14: Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars, Blundstone Arena, 7:40pm AEDT
Oct 16: Melbourne Renegades v Hobart Hurricanes, Blundstone Arena, 3:40pm AEDT
Oct 16: Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers, Blundstone Arena, 7:05pm AEDT
Oct 17: Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat, Blundstone Arena, 10:15am AEDT
Oct 17: Hobart Hurricanes v Sydney Sixers, Blundstone Arena, 1:40pm AEDT
Oct 19: Melbourne Stars v Hobart Hurricanes, Blundstone Arena, 1:25pm AEDT
Oct 19: Brisbane Heat v Perth Scorchers, Blundstone Arena, 4:50pm AEDT
Oct 20: Melbourne Renegades v Adelaide Strikers, Blundstone Arena, 1:25pm AEDT
Oct 20: Melbourne Stars v Sydney Sixers, Blundstone Arena, 4:50pm AEDT
Oct 23: Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers, University of Tasmania Stadium, 3:40pm AEDT
Oct 23: Perth Scorchers v Melbourne Renegades, University of Tasmania Stadium, 7:05pm AEDT
Oct 23: Adelaide Strikers v Hobart Hurricanes, Invermay Park, 10:15am AEDT
Oct 23: Melbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat, Invermay Park, 2:00pm AEDT
Oct 24: Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Renegades, University of Tasmania Stadium, 1:40pm AEDT
Oct 24: Perth Scorchers v Sydney Thunder, University of Tasmania Stadium, 5:15pm AEDT
Oct 24: Adelaide Strikers v Brisbane Heat, Invermay Park, 10:15am AEDT
Oct 26: Melbourne Stars v Sydney Thunder, University of Tasmania Stadium, 1:25pm AEDT
Oct 26: Hobart Hurricanes v Brisbane Heat, University of Tasmania Stadium, 4:50pm AEDT
Oct 27: Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades, University of Tasmania Stadium, 1:25pm AEDT
Oct 27: Hobart Hurricanes v Melbourne Stars, University of Tasmania Stadium, 4:50pm AEDT

The following matches will be rescheduled to a date and time to be confirmed:

Sydney Sixers v Sydney Thunder: Originally scheduled for Sunday, October 17
Adelaide Strikers v Sydney Thunder: Originally scheduled for Tuesday, October 19
Melbourne Stars v Adelaide Strikers: Originally scheduled for Tuesday, October 26

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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