CRICKET: The Women's Big Bash League is set to explode in its third season on the back of more money, commitment from the game and players being ready to take the action to the fans.
With the recent MOU allowing Australia's top female players to be fully professional and most domestic players to fully focus on cricket during the season, players are fitter, stronger and better prepared for WBBL|03, which gets underway this weekend.
Six of the eight teams will be on show at North Sydney Oval in two double-headers this Saturday and Sunday and captain of defending champions Sydney Sixers, Ellyse Perry, said everything is coming together to ensure the season starts with a bang.
"A lot of the girls in this competition, particularly the Australian players, have probably been full-time cricketers for at least six months, if not longer,” Perry said.
"From that point of view it only means that players are going to be better, from a skills point of view, but also an athletic point of view. They've had a longer time to focus on being stronger and fitter.
"Especially in T20 cricket where that athleticism and explosiveness comes into play so often, I expect everyone to be better than they were last year.”
Brisbane Heat's Beth Mooney was in ripping form during the recent Ashes T20s, putting on an 86 and 117 in two of the three matches, and she expects the runs will flow freely this season.
"North Sydney Oval, opening weekend, it will be a belter of a wicket again,” she said.
"We might see scores of 160-plus all the way through the weekend.
"It will be really exciting and a really good spectacle for the Australian public to look at and get talking about women's cricket.”
Cricket Australia's head of Big Bash Kim McConnie said talk is key in taking the game beyond it's current audience.
McConnie said while those in cricket circles knew all about the exciting T20 women's competition, the challenge is now reaching people outside that.
Free entry to games, double-headers and taking games to non-traditional grounds are some of the steps they are taking, as well as entering partnerships with non-sport entities.
”That's where the growth will come from,” McConnie said. "It's interesting, the level of awareness on women's cricket is ridiculously low, still.
"We're in the world so we find it hard to believe but only 40 per cent of Australians actually know there's a professional women's cricket team.