BBL boss downplays Canberra team but extra games on the cards

A Canberra team isn't on the Big Bash League's horizon, but extra games could be given Manuka Oval sold out last year for the clash between Sydney Thunder and the Melbourne Renegades on Wednesday.

Fairfax Media revealed a Canberra consortium was launching a bid for a BBL team last year, but they might have a wait with BBL boss Kim McConnie confirming expansion wasn't in their short-term plans.

McConnie wanted to shore up the existing eight teams, but part of that was allowing the Thunder to put down roots in the ACT.

Not only does she want to see the Thunder return to Manuka next summer, but that could be for more than this season's one game.

Having hosted the sold-out BBL final in 2015, Canberra has shown it's appetite for Twenty20 cricket with another full house for the first BBL regular season game on Wednesday.

But that appetite will have to wait before it can be sated by a Canberra team, with McConnie saying there wasn't a time line on when expansion might occur.

While McConnie played down Canberra's chances of its own team, McConnie will meet with the Canberra consortium at the game on Wednesday.

"It's great to see a lot of interest in Canberra for a team ... [but] we're not looking for new BBL teams, we're really focussed on the next couple of seasons at minimum - how do we build our current clubs," McConnie said.

"To be launching into new teams is something that's far off into our future, but I imagine one day there might be a scenario where we might see more teams added."

But it's not all bad news for Canberra's BBL fans with McConnie confirming she wanted more games in Canberra.

That was independent of Manuka having any upgrades for the ground and stadium.

The historic oval needed some work done before it was allowed to host its historic first Test, which will happen in 2019 when Australia will play Sri Lanka there.

But McConnie didn't think anything extra was needed for Manuka to be a regular BBL venue.

She instead wanted to see the Thunder put down their roots in Canberra as the competition continued to grow.

With the BBL considering expanding their fixture again next summer, McConnie said that could mean more games in Canberra - although there's other cities around Australia that were also hungry for games.

"If it's really successful we can look at, 'Hey well what happens if we brought another game?'," she said.

"We've had a BBL final there, we've got one regular season game there, what would happen if we had more? Would fans want to see that?"

Manuka will host a WBBL and BBL double header on Wednesday, but McConnie said there was the potential Canberra could have stand alone games in both leagues next summer.

They've been trialling both formats around the country this summer and she felt that would continue for the 2018-19 season as well.

"We still have the double headers and we're trialling some stand alone games ... it's something that we're looking at this season," McConnie said.

"I think next season we'll still have that combination. There are some instances where we get really great attendance for WBBL by linking it to BBL.

"Then definitely we want to start looking at how do we have more of these stand alone [games] as well. So I think we'll see a combination."


Wednesday: Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades at Manuka Oval, WBBL at 2.50pm and BBL at 7.40pm. Live on Win.

This story BBL boss downplays Canberra team but extra games on the cards first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.