BBL close to announcing playing schedule

Rob Forsaith
·2-min read

Big Bash League organisers haven't given up hope of staging matches in Perth as they prepare to unveil a schedule that is unlikely to include venues for the second half of the season.

Cricket Australia is finalising fixtures for the 10th edition of the BBL, with an announcement expected on Thursday.

The Twenty20 competition is set to start on December 10.

The BBL will have a week of clear air to capture cricket fans' attention between the white-ball section of India's tour and the first Test at Adelaide Oval.

It's believed the BBL will begin with hubs in Hobart and Canberra.

CA is yet to lock in venues for BBL games scheduled beyond the end of December, giving some fixture flexibility amid the wait for more news on state borders and potential exemptions.

However, AAP understands that plans are afoot for the regular season to finish in Melbourne.

The city recently starved of live sport would be hosting the most star-laden stretch of the BBL, with Australia's best players free of national-team commitments.

It is unclear how many Test stars will be keen for a BBL stint after a taxing series against India and months of biosecurity bubbles, although Marnus Labuschagne has notably re-signed with Brisbane Heat.

Steve Smith has already ruled himself out of a BBL return amid fears of burnout, while Josh Hazlewood is also believed to be unlikely to play for Sydney Sixers this summer.

A final call regarding hosting rights for the BBL finals is yet to be made.

Perth, which is not hosting a single international match in 2020-21, is still in the mix to host some BBL games.

Western Australia recently announced it will remove its hard border policy from November 14, shifting to what Premier Mark McGowan termed "a controlled interstate border".

There is growing hope that BBL teams, which will play and train under strict COVID-19 protocols, may be able to travel west and avoid the restrictive level of quarantining that AFL clubs experienced this year.

CA announced BBL fixtures in July and has since repeatedly rejigged draft editions of its domestic and international schedules.

The delayed schedule has been one of many points of clash in an oft-heated contract dispute between CA and its free-to-air broadcaster Seven, which has also criticised the BBL's quality.

CA has changed its rules and allowed BBL franchises to sign a third international recruit for 2020-21, an initiative partly funded by Australian players.

The governing body has also worked hard to clear a big window for limited-overs stars like Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell, who will be available for the entire BBL unless selected in an enlarged Test squad.