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WBBL boasts big early TV audience

AAP logoAAP 11/12/2016 Will Knight and Adrian Warren

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has hailed the bumper television ratings for the start of the second women's WBBL T20 cricket competition, as overseas stars made an instant impression.

The opening round finished with a bang, with renowned big-hitting West Indies batter Deandra Dottin smashing an unbeaten 60, the highest score of the weekend, in Brisbane Heat's five wicket win over Sydney Sixers.

Defending champions Sydney Thunder lost their opening game to Melbourne Stars by six runs despite a classy 47 not out from Harmanpreet Kaur, the WBBL's first Indian player.

Hobart Hurricanes and Perth Scorchers split their two match series, as did Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renefades .

More than 6000 thousand people turned out at North Sydney Oval over the weekend to watch the six opening round matches involving all eight teams.

The match between Thunder and Stars - starting at 6.15pm AEDT - gained a national average TV audience on free-to-air's Network Ten of 386,000, according to Mediaweek.

It marked the first time a stand alone women's sporting match has been broadcast in prime time on a commercial free-to-air network's primary channel.

The earlier broadcast match in the double-header at North Sydney Oval between the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades netted 267,000 viewers.

They were heartening figures for Cricket Australia and Network Ten in the second season of the WBBL, with the governing body looking to cash in on the huge popularity of the Twenty20 format when the next BBL-WBBL media rights are up for grabs from the 2018-19 season.

"We were absolutely delighted with the average audiences," Sutherland told AAP.

"It just goes to show that during summer time people can't get enough cricket.

"But at the same time people are really coming to realise that women's cricket is great entertainment and want to watch it."

Saturday's WBBL TV numbers dwarfed those of the A-League on both free-to-air and pay-TV. on Friday and Saturday.

Dottin apart, Perth's Australian representative Elyse Villani was the only player to pass 50 over the weekend.

The Renegades' classy 18 year-old allrounder Sophie Molinuex excelled in both her teams'games across the weekend, prompting her her captain and New Zealand international wicketkeeper Rachel Priest to declare: "If she's not in the Aussie set-up soon, then something is not right."

Sutherland felt emerging Australian talent like Molineux were profiting from playing alongside seasoned internationals.

"Our young Australian state players are getting the experience of playing with some of the best players in the world and you can see them lift," Sutherland said.

"Just watching Sophie Molineux play today, she has taken four wickets and finished the game (28 not out) and she's out their batting with (Enlgand international) Danni Wyatt, what a great experience for her."

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