Australia's premiere T20 cricket competition is being shortened again in an attempt to counteract criticism that the Big Bash League schedule is too long.
Cricket Australia on Friday said the league would be shortened to 10 games per franchise a year earlier than planned after it struck a deal with broadcasters, confirming the move from 56 to 40 regular-season games will happen this season.
The playoffs will also be tweaked, going from five teams qualifying to four, with a yet-to-be-determined four-match finals format. The tournament schedule is expected to be announced in July and matches will begin in December.
The reduction in men's matches takes the competition back to 2017-18 when the eight-team Big Bash was in its prime.
The reduced competition timeframe should allow the season to be played entirely within the Christmas school holidays. It will also ensure marquee overseas players are available for a higher percentage of matches, along with giving a greater chance for Australia's white-ball stars to play all matches.
Cricket Australia first indicated its desire to shorten the competition during last summer's broadcast negotiations, with changes planned for 2024-25.
Both local broadcasters Foxtel and Seven had been open to bringing the change in sooner, but a number of deals had to be struck with club sponsors and to alter venue arrangements.
“A shortened BBL will allow us greater flexibility to ensure we can deliver the best possible fixture for clubs and fans,” BBL general manager Alistair Dobson said.