ACT to join WBBL teams in new women's T20 comp

Cricket Australia has announced the format for a new national women's T20 competition, which will feature teams aligned with the eight Big Bash clubs along with the ACT.

The new nine-team competition is scheduled to take place immediately before the Weber WBBL season with each team playing four matches before the top four play off in the semi-finals and final.

The new competition ensures there is no overall reduction in women's games following the shortening of the WBBL to a 40-game home-and-away season in line with the men's Big Bash.

The inception of the competition – announced alongside CA's Women and Girls Action Plan last month – also means the average wage for state contracted players will rise to about $163,000 per year (an increase of eight per cent for a player with both a WBBL and state contract) due to extra match payments.

CA chief executive Nick Hockley said the competition would take women's domestic cricket a step further toward full-time professionalism.

"A new domestic T20 competition that will create more opportunities for elite female domestic players, while also complementing the optimised Weber WBBL schedule," he said.

"Elite domestic cricket is the backbone of Australian cricket’s ongoing success, and this competition will allow more domestic players the opportunity to gain top level experience and showcase their talents."

Aligning with the WBBL clubs means NSW and Victoria will continue to be represented by two T20 sides, allowing fringe domestic players in Australia's two largest cricketing states more top-flight playing opportunities.

The addition of the ACT – who previously played in the Australian Women's Twenty20 Cup until the WBBL was formed – does throw up some challenges however, as several Meteors players were also contracted to Big Bash clubs last season.

The ACT's Kris Britt celebrates after taking a catch to dismiss Rachael Haynes of NSW during the WT20 semi final match between NSW and ACT at Blacktown International Sportspark on February 5, 2014 (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images). The ACT played in the Australian Women's Twenty20 Cup from 2009–15, finishing runners-up in 2013–14.

Those players include star batter Katie Mack who has a year to run on her Adelaide Strikers deal. Mack was both the Strikers' and ACT's top run-scorer last summer.

The Strikers have confirmed Mack will play for them in the new competition.

Each Big Bash team will now play 10 WBBL regular season matches rather than 14, with the reduced season set to lighten to load of what’s an increasingly busy calendar for Australia's top women's cricketers.

It also makes the WBBL more appealing to top overseas players who now also have the option of playing in a variety of T20 franchise leagues around the world as well as an increasingly busy international schedule.

But the congested international schedule also means CA-contracted players are unlikely to be available for much, if any, of the new T20 competition prior to this year's WBBL due to the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, which runs until October 20.

That would likely leave four clubs missing multiple players for the new tournament this summer – Adelaide Strikers (Tahlia McGrath, Megan Schutt and Darcie Brown), Melbourne Renegades (Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham and Tayla Vlaeminck), Melbourne Stars (Kim Garth and Annabel Sutherland) and Sydney Sixers (Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry).

Perth Scorchers could also be without two Aussie stars – Alana King and Beth Mooney – however they are yet to re-sign Mooney for WBBL|10.

However, there were 25 players contracted to the seven state teams last season without WBBL deals that would benefit from the additional top-level T20 opportunities due to the Australian players' absence, with the majority of those in the ACT.

NSW and Victoria only had one player each that was not part of a WBBL list last summer, Tasmania had two, while Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia had three each.

Cricket NSW CEO Lee Germon said the new competition would benefit Australian Cricket holistically, with development opportunities nationwide a boost for the ongoing success of the Australian women's team.

"Cricket NSW has always been committed to the success of the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder and the tournament announced today will help both of our clubs in their quest for WBBL success and to produce players for Australia," Germon said.

"That enhanced player pathway is in the best interests of Australian cricket and provides further opportunity for the continued success of our national women's teams."

CA confirmed women's state contracting for next season was now open following an embargo while the details of the new T20 competition were determined.

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