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Cricket Australia confident WBBL plans can adapt to changing Covid-19 situation

Cricket Australia is confident the WBBL structure can react to a changing Covid-19 landscape as the start of the tournament which will be played entirely in a Sydney hub draws closer.

The competition will begin on October 25 and run until the end of November, played at a variety of venues around the city with players based in a ‘village’ at the Sydney Olympic Park. As it stands, crowds will be able to attend at varying levels across the different grounds based on capacity restrictions.

After a period of 12 days without community transmission of Covid-19 in New South Wales, cases have returned over the last week but the way the competition has been set-up provides various contingencies should they be required.

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“One of the focus areas for building the competition has been the village which is a really self-contained facility to create a safe environment where we can scale up and down the level security and overlay that’s required,” Alistair Dobson, the head of the Big Bash, said.

“Crowds will be something we work really closely with the New South Wales government on around capacity – different venues will have different requirements. The hill at North Sydney Oval will be different to the big stands at the [Sydney] Showgrounds.

“We have a really scalable model which will allow us to pull different levers if the situation changes. We haven’t talked specific [Covid] numbers but it’s something we monitor and talk about daily.”

There are 23 overseas players signed up for the tournament with those from England, West Indies and South Africa currently undergoing two weeks quarantine in various cities before all the teams join up in Sydney next week. Those who live in Sydney will also be required to stay within the village, which will allow players some degree of freedom around the hotels but with strict protocols still in place to restrict any wider movement.

“It’s an enormous sacrifice and it goes without saying that there isn’t a part of the game that hasn’t had to make really big sacrifices to get the WBBL season over the line and the same will apply for all the different formats this year,” Dobson said. “There’s an element of freedom within the village because we are able to create such a secure environment around it.

“Part of what we’ve tried to set up is that players who are essentially leaving home for five or six weeks, from a mental health and wellbeing point of view, have an experience which is positive and not the hard bubble some other competitions have gone through. There are restrictions outside the village in terms of going into restaurants nearby or those sorts of things, [and] there’s an element of being able to flex that up and down.”

On Thursday, it was announced that 12 additional WBBL matches would be live on Fox Cricket meaning more than half the tournament will be televised with the other games available via streaming.

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