Cricket Australia on Wednesday announced an expanded season for the next edition of the Big Bash League, starting on December 19 2018. The final will be played on February 17 2019. There will be 59 matches played in total, with each side playing each other twice (home and away) during the regular season. Each team will play 14 matches before the final stage of the tournament begins.
The season will also see BBL matches being played at the Metricon Stadium in Gold Coast for the first time, just a month after the venue plays host to its first international T20 between Australia and South Africa. Brisbane Heat will take on the Hobart Hurricanes and Sydney Sixers respectively on December 22 and January 1, before Gold Coast sees the last of its three BBL matches played between Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder on January 5.
Speaking to cricket.com.au, Big Bash League head Kim McConnie said: "The objective of moving BBL to a full home and away fixture is consistent with Cricket Australia's strategy of growing the Big Bash and becoming number one for fans across Australia. With more games in more locations, we believe this is going to be one of the most exciting, action-packed BBL seasons to-date."
Another first in the next season will be when a BBL match will be played simultaneously with an Australian home Test match, as Sri Lanka play Australia on the fourth day of their day-night Test match at The Gabba on January 27th. It will be held at the same time as the men's singles final of the Australian Open as well.
The objective behind the expanded season, which will extend past Australian school holidays and even see matches being played on Christmas Eve, is to have "more family-friendly timeslots on weekends to help drive participation," McConnie said. "The new landmark broadcast partnership we have with Fox Sports and Seven West Media will enable us to broadcast more BBL matches than ever before. Fox Sports will broadcast all 59 matches, including 16 matches exclusively, while Seven will broadcast 43 matches across the season," he concluded.
The next edition of the Big Bash League will be its eighth season, with the Adelaide Strikers going into it as defending champions.