The 2021-22 Women’s Big Bash League season will revert to more traditional scheduling following last year’s one-off hosting of the entire competition in Sydney in a bio-secure Village in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Festival rounds will be held around Australia during the competition, which will get underway from 14 October.
The Heat will play two games in Mackay at Great Barrier Reef Arena at Harrup Park on November 19 and 20, with their return to the northern city a welcome boost for their title prospects.
The Heat have played six WBBL matches in Mackay since 2018, with the games generating big crowds and strong growth in female participation in the area, recording the highest level of registered female players outside of the Brisbane metropolitan area in 2019.
With the Heat to feature in the fan and family-friendly Friday and Saturday night timeslots in Mackay, the current WBBL standalone crowd record of 5650 set by the club in January 2019 is set to be tested.
Under the festival format, the Heat will be joined by three other WBBL sides with two games being played each day at Great Barrier Reef Arena.
The Brisbane Heat are in the second year of a three-year agreement with the Mackay Regional Council and last year carried destination branding on the playing shirts of both male and female teams.
With Allan Border Field under redevelopment this year, the WBBL Heat team will make its inaugural appearance at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast when it hosts a festival round.
The Heat will play games on October 30 and 31, the first time WBBL matches will be staged at the venue.
And if the two-time champions qualify to host the WBBL Final, they could make a return to the Gabba for the decider.
If that was the case, it would be the first time the Gabba would host a WBBL game and Final since it became a stand-alone competition two years ago.
Queensland Cricket CEO Terry Svenson said the club was delighted to return to Mackay and make their inaugural appearances at Metricon Stadium this summer.
“We have a wonderful collaborative relationship the Mackay Regional Council, Harrup Park Country Club and Mackay Cricket Association and that has allowed us to achieve some significant results in the region,’’ he said.
“Thanks to the outstanding backing from Mayor Greg Williamson and the Mackay Regional Council, we enjoy excellent crowd support in Mackay, and it also continues to be a strong contributor to our overall regional female participation growth numbers.”
“It’s also very pleasing to be able to play our first WBBL games at Metricon Stadium when the Gold Coast hosts a festival round and we look forward to working closely with the venue and the City of Gold Coast to make it a resounding success, as has been the case with our BBL games there.”
“After being away for the entire competition last summer, I’m sure everyone at the club is looking forward to playing home games in front of Heat fans again.”
Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson welcomed the return of the Heat to Mackay.
“It will be the first time we will have four teams here in Mackay and it will be a great weekend for fans,’’ he said.
“The Heat enjoy great support here and every time they have come here, they have been overwhelmed by that support. So, we urge fans to put the dates in the diary and come along to enjoy the action,” he said.
City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the WBBL Heat would receive a warm welcome from the local community.
“What a coup. The best female cricketers in Australia showcasing their skills at Metricon,” he said.
“Our city continues to emerge as a major sports and events destination, with the facilities and logistical support to match. Book me a front row seat.’’
The 59-game season will begin on Thursday, October 14, with the Final to be played in primetime following day one of the Vodafone Men’s Test against Afghanistan on Saturday, November 27.
There will be more matches broadcast than ever this summer, with a record 47 games to be shown on Channel 7 and Foxtel and the remainder live streamed through cricket.com.au and KAYO.
The remarkable growth of the WBBL – Australia’s fourth most-watched sporting league after the KFC BBL, AFL and NRL – was underscored with today’s schedule release.
In the WBBL’s first season, ten matches were televised, followed by 12 in WBBL|02 and WBBL|03, 23 in WBBL|04 and WBBL|05 and 36 last season.
The 47 matches to be televised by Seven and Foxtel in 2021-22 confirms the WBBL’s enormous popularity with Australian audiences and standing as the best women’s T20 league in the world.
All 59 matches will also be streamed live on Kayo Sports and cricket.com.au, and available on ABC Radio.
Brisbane Heat memberships will be on sale to the public from Monday 16 August, with renewals to existing members from Monday 19 July.
2021-22 Brisbane Heat members will continue to receive free entry to all home games across the WBBL season.
Brisbane Heat fans who cannot attend games in person can still show their support for the WBBL team and receive exclusive member benefits through a range of non-ticketed supporter packages.
Fans can also join the official Brisbane Heat Supporters Club and the new Bub Club and Pets Club on offer as non-ticketed packages.
The Brisbane Heat’s BBL fixtures for the 2021-22 season will be announced in due course.