BBL expansion is 'what fans expect': CA

Sammy-Jo Johnson, Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell, Ben Cutting and Jess Jonassen at Metricon Stadium.
Sammy-Jo Johnson, Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell, Ben Cutting and Jess Jonassen at Metricon Stadium.

An expanded Big Bash League will run longer than the Indian Premier League and well beyond its previous popular school holiday slot.

However, Cricket Australia denies it risks overkill after announcing a 2018/19 season schedule featuring 16 more games and a full home and away season for the first time.

A mid-February finish will see the eighth season of BBL extend beyond the school holiday timeslot and even go head-to-head with Test cricket, while running 13 days longer than it did last season.

In all, the vastly expanded BBL season will feature 59 matches - up from 43 last season - across 61 days with the first ball bowled at the Gabba on December 19.

In comparison, this year's eight-team Indian Premier League season mirrored the BBL's slated home and away schedule but lasted just 50 days.

Last season's T20 Blast in England featured 18 teams, with each playing 14 round robin games across 57 days in the school holidays.

And the six-team T20 Challenge in South Africa was conducted over 36 days, with each team playing 10 round-robin matches.

Cricket Australia BBL chief Kim McConnie said consolidating a full home and away fixture over the next three years was the only focus, in response to being asked how big was too big.

"We really are a baby in the scheme of things and full home and away isn't too big; I think it's actually what fans expect and want to see," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"They also want to see the BBL go to new places.

"It had such a great reception going to places like Launceston and Alice Springs and this morning my taxi driver was so excited the Brisbane Heat were going to be playing on the Gold Coast."

McConnie said family friendly timeslots - a bulk of the games will begin earlier at 7pm this season - would aid attendance in February once school holidays had finished.

In previous years the Melbourne and Sydney Tests have been played during the day with BBL matches to follow at night.

This season's schedule lists the Melbourne Stars to play the Heat on January 27, which is day four of the twilight Test between Australia and Sri Lanka at the Gabba.

Gold Coast's Metricon Stadium will host three games in each of the next three seasons in what local sports administrators are viewing as a test before expansion teams are considered for the 2021/22 season.

BBL08 IN A NUTSHELL

* Full home and away fixtures, increasing total games from 43 to 59.

* Competition from December 19 to February 17; 13 days longer than last season's tournament.

* The Brisbane Heat (two) and Melbourne Stars (one) will host matches at the Gold Coast's Metricon Stadium.

* No expansion teams for at least three more seasons.

* Fox Sports will broadcast all games while Seven Network will show 43 matches.

Australian Associated Press