Sydney Thunder coach Shane Bond is hopeful the Big Bash League can attract crowds next summer as the club prepares to return to its second home in Canberra.
Cricket Australia unveiled the 2020-21 season fixtures on Wednesday, with Canberra to host two matches in 10 days at Manuka Oval as per an agreement with the ACT government.
The Thunder will host grand-finalists the Melbourne Stars on January 3 and then return to the same venue to play the Brisbane Heat on January 13.
The 10th edition of the BBL is set to be the longest season in the competition's history, with 61 games to be played over nine weeks.
Cricket Australia is hopeful coronavirus restrictions will be eased by the competition's opener on December 3, with the early start giving them flexibility to adjust the schedule if needed.
But the Big Bash fixtures that would bring the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Chris Lynn to Canberra could be changed if the season is played behind closed doors.
It's unlikely the ACT government will commit to funding the Big Bash if crowds cannot attend, with Chief Minister Andrew Barr saying in May he won't pay for Manuka Oval "to be a television backdrop."
Bond is confident the Big Bash will attract some crowds when it returns in December, saying organisers can learn from the winter codes who have done a "remarkable job".
"It is what it is. Everything is very fluid at the moment and as we've seen with Victoria over the past week, things can be going well and very quickly turnaround," Bond said.
"The Big Bash is still a long way away, so what this competition has is time.
"If all things are going well over summer and with the Big Bash being a little earlier, having full crowds for the entire tournament would be sensational.
"Regardless of what's going on at the moment, cricket has time on its side. I'm really hopeful people can come and enjoy the matches, fingers crossed really."
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The club's recent Big Bash fixtures in Canberra have been affected by heavy rain and smoke, with organisers forced to abandon a match between the Thunder and Adelaide Strikers due to bushfire haze last season.
Bond hopes their return to Manuka Oval will be unaffected by the weather, saying the venue feels like the club's second home.
"The last few years we've had a bit of bad weather and smoke, so fingers crossed we can get 40 overs in each game because it's such a great venue to play on and everyone is excited about coming down," Bond said.
"It's probably the best wicket in the country, the ground is really well looked after down there. Everytime we come to Manuka we know it's going to be an absolute belter, and I think that's what the guys look forward to.
"A lot of teams play at a second venue but it's not a second home. Whereas, Manuka is a genuine second home for us because the ACT is part of our district. It feels like we're playing on our homeground and we play well there."
Cricket Australia is widely reported to be working on a proposal for an international player draft, but clubs may have less flexibility signing overseas stars.
The governing body is hopeful of attracting a stack of overseas-based talent with Australian Test stars unlikely to take part due to a busy summer of international cricket.
International recruits will likely face strict quarantine requirements, biosecurity measures and travel restrictions to play in the Big Bash, a factor that may deter short-term signings.
"Part of our strategy over the past few years is to build the strongest group of local players that we can and get experience into our local boys. I think we've done that really well," Bond said.
"We're hopeful to get our overseas players back but again, who knows what the international travel restrictions are going to be.
"The contract window will open shortly and we'll put in for some players to continue the depth of our squad.
"It's really just a wait-and-see scenario for which countries are expected, which players we can get and how we quarantine them. It's likely to have an impact but it's too early to tell what that looks like."
MANUKA BIG BASH MATCHES
2020-21 Sydney Thunder fixtures at Manuka Oval
- Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars on January 3
- Sydney Thunder v Brisbane Heat on January 13