BBL unveils earliest ever competition start

Cricket Australia has unveiled the fixtures for this summer’s Big Bash League, with the competition set to start earlier than ever before.

The home-and-away season, which is made up of 56 games in 46 days, starts on December 3 with the defending champions Sydney Sixers hosting the Melbourne Stars at the SCG.

The earlier start date means the regular season is completed on January 19, allowing the final to be played on January 28, the first time since the 2016-17 season the competition hasn’t spilled into February.

A total of 14 venues will be used across seven different states and territories, including matches in Geelong and Coffs Harbour.

However BBL boss Alistair Dobson concedes the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns could still force a change.

“Like all leagues globally, we remain conscious of the need to be agile in response to the challenges of the pandemic,” he said.

“We are confident that the experience obtained through our successful completion of the BBL|10 campaign will hold us in good stead as we deliver the best possible competition for our players and fans.”

No match has been scheduled for Christmas Day, a debate that has been festering for a number of years, with no clear majority either way.

Likewise, Australia’s Test players have again all but been ruled out of the BBL, with the Ashes series starting on December 8 and concluding on January 18.

A proposed draft for overseas players, first mooted before BBL|10, has again been postponed.

“We’ve retained the same overseas player contracting structure as last season and expect another top quality group of cricketers will land on our shores and delight our fans this summer,” Dobson said.

Teams will again be able to nominate three overseas players in their 18-man squads.

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