Big Bash League (BBL) on Thursday announced fixtures for its ninth edition, unveiling home-and-away season with a new finals format.
The tournament will take place in a shorter regular season as compared to its previous season. The new finals format will allow the top two teams with a double chance to reach final. It will also give an opportunity to the fifth-placed team to make an impact in the finals.
The fourth and fifth-placed teams will meet in the eliminator on January 30. The first and second-positioned teams will play the qualifier on January 31.
The knock-out will see the third-placed and the winner of the eliminator on February 1. The loser of the qualifier and winner of the knock-out will get a chance in the challenger on February 6. The final will witness the winner of qualifier and winner of the challenger on February 8.
A total of 56 matches will be played over 42 days, with all teams competing in 14 home-and-away encounters. The winner of the qualifier will get a week to prepare for hosting the final on February 8.
Head of Big Bash Leagues, Alistair Dobson in a statement said, "The BBL fixture is finally here and we're really excited about what the season has to offer with some fantastic cricket to cater for all fans across Australia. The off-season has provided the Big Bash team time to assess research and fan feedback, helping us identify some key opportunities to give our fans an improved BBL fixture."
Dobson further said that BBL have made fixtures shorter with consistent timeslots. He added it have fantastic matches and venues for the teams.
"This is a great fixture for the league, our clubs and most importantly our fans. We've listened and now have a shortened fixture, more consistent timeslots, a continued regional footprint and a stronger finals format which will give fans the best opportunity to experience the BBL. There are some fantastic matchups and venues that provide something for everyone this BBL season, with most of our matches falling into the school holidays," he said.
"The finals format has been set to make it the best possible end to the season, rewarding the top two teams with a double chance and giving the winner hosting rights of The Final. At the same time, it's a more challenging and entertaining prospect for fourth and fifth to go on and win the competition. Our previous finals model didn't do that, with fourth winning the competition twice and reaching four grand finals, compared to the top team which has made just two grand finals, winning just one of them," Dobson added.
The new structure will see the host of the final locked in a week advance. Brisbane Heat and Sydney Thunder will play in the curtain-raiser at the Gabba on December 17.
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