The Big Bash League (BBL, also known as the KFC Big Bash League for sponsorship reasons) is an Australian professional Twenty20 cricket league, which was established in 2011 by Cricket Australia. The Big Bash League replaced the previous competition, the KFC Twenty20 Big Bash, and features eight city-based franchises instead of the six state teams which had participated previously. The competition has been sponsored by fast food chicken outlet KFC since its inception.
BBL matches are played in Australia during the summer in the months of December and January. It is now placed sixth in the list of most attended sports leagues in the world with respect to average crowd per match (2015–16 season).
Out of the eight teams in the tournament, four have won the title at least once. The Perth Scorchers are the most successful team in the league's short history, winning the title three times including consecutively for two years and have reached the final of the tournament in five of the six seasons. The other three teams which have won the title are Sydney Sixers, Brisbane Heat and Sydney Thunder. The current champions are the Perth Scorchers.
Earlier, the top two teams in the tournament used to qualify for the Champions League Twenty20 tournament. It was an annual international Twenty20 competition played between the top domestic teams from various nations. However, the CLT20 has now become defunct from 2015 onwards.
A design contest was held in 2011 to determine the design of the Big Bash League trophy. The competition was restricted to Australian designers, with the final design, chosen by the public from a field of three, revealed on 13 December 2011.
Since the inception of the BBL in 2011, the tournament has followed the same format every year except the inaugural season. The first BBL season had 28 group stage matches, before expanding to 32 in the following season.
Currently in the eight team format, each team plays every other team at least once during a season. However, each team is also assigned a particular "rival" with which they play for the second time in the same season. The assigned 'rival' for a team does not change generally in different seasons. Cross-town teams such as Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars have been assigned as "rivals" to each other. This allows BBL to have 2 Melbourne derbies as well as 2 Sydney derbies within a single season.
The group stage matches are divided into 8 rounds, with 4 matches played in each round. Each team plays 8 group stage matches, four at home and four away, before the top 4 ranked teams progress to the Semi Finals. The Final of the tournament is played at the home ground of the highest-ranked team. The only exception to this rule was 2014–15 season when the final was played at a neutral venue (Manuka Oval).
Thus, the total number of matches during a season tally up to 35, with 32 group stage matches and 3 knock out matches.
The Big Bash League's salary cap was $1.05 million for the third season, a $50,000 increase from the two previous seasons, which were played under a salary cap of $1 million. In February 2015, BBL salary cap increased to $1.30 million for the fifth season of BBL.
Currently, the salary cap has increased to $1.40 million, an increase of $100,000 compared to previous season. Under the $1.40 million salary cap, a team can sign a total of 18 contracted players consisting of a minimum of 2 rookie contracts and maximum of 2 overseas players. In addition, 2 overseas replacement players can also be signed by a team.