Tasmania, ACT to be hubs for first Big Bash League matches

Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) has announced its opening fixtures for 2020-21, with Tasmania and the ACT to be “hubs” for the opening matches of the season.

Tasmania’s Bellerive Oval will host the opening BBL match on December 10 between the Hobart Hurricanes and defending champions the Sydney Sixers.

The first stretch of matches will be played at Bellerive, Launceston’s York Park and Canberra’s Manuka Oval.

Queensland and South Australia will also host December matches at the Gabba, Carrara Stadium and Adelaide Oval.

The league said venues for matches scheduled in the new year will be announced in coming weeks.

It hopes the easing of border restrictions will allow matches to be played in every state.

“This is without doubt the most complex fixturing task ever undertaken by the league and we are excited with where it has landed,” Cricket Australia’s Big Bash League head Alistair Dobson said.

“It has been a difficult year for so many people around Australia and we look forward to bringing the BBL to every state should border conditions allow us to.

BBL matches a ‘massive coup’

In Tasmania, where no AFL football was played during the recent AFL season, the news of a BBL hub has been welcomed.

“This is a massive coup for Tasmania and the local economy,” Tasmania’s Premier Peter Gutwein said.

Over 10 days, the Hobart Hurricanes will feature in four fixtures, and the state will also host four matches featuring two non-Tasmanian teams.

Crowds of up to 10,000 will be permitted at the four Bellerive Oval and two York Park matches.

Cricket Tasmania chief executive Dominic Baker said the organisation had been working closely with Cricket Australia to secure the first hub in Tasmania.

“We think it’s important that Tasmanian cricket fans have the opportunity to attend top-level cricket this summer, and, despite the obvious challenges we have all faced this year, we are thrilled that we have got to this point,” Mr Baker said.

Cricket ACT chief executive James Allsopp said he was delighted Canberra would host five BBL teams in December for six matches.

Canberra is also hosting Men’s International matches between Australia and India.

“Hosting a comprehensive summer of cricket in Canberra will generate a range of economic, social and community benefits, including supporting jobs across multiple sectors of the economy and promoting Canberra and the ACT to a global audience,” Mr Allsopp said.

Sydney Thunder captain Callum Ferguson said it was great news for his club that it will play its opening block of matches at Manuka Oval.

“Canberra is our second home, and I love that the fans have really rallied behind us at Manuka Oval,” he said.

“We plan to put on a big show for our fans there over the summer.”

ACT Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry said the Canberra hub was a great opportunity for young aspiring cricketers to watch elite-level sport.