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Mike Selvey, former England cricketer and veteran cricket writer, initially described T20 as ‘candyfloss cricket’. “One bite, some sweetness, and then… nothing.” He has since warmed up to the format, admitting that it has changed the landscape of the game. But I think he was actually right the first time.

Sweets, most scientists (and dentists) will tell you, are mildly addictive. The instant gratification, the signals generated by the same areas in the brain that respond to cocaine, and the wait till the next hit. Of course I’m not talking about sweets or candyfloss anymore. I’m talking about T20 cricket. The rush, the roar, the anticipation, the need to see more: T20 cricket has given cricket the formula to find the most economically sought after ingredient: The returning customer.

The head honchos at the WBBL must have been slightly apprehensive after the success of the first season last year. Where they were conservatively aiming at simply increasing female participation at the grass roots, they instead got 12,000 people to a domestic women’s cricket match and record numbers on TV. The pressure was on them to top those numbers this year. Was the WBBL01 sweet enough? Would it pull young kids, dragging their parents along, into stadia and stands this season for another high?

The response has been electric. In the New Year’s Derby double header at the MCG – the same game that saw the 12,000 turn up last year – 25,547 fans were present at the end of the women’s game, despite knowing that the men’s game wouldn’t start for another 90 minutes. For the return derby at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, 13,000 fans turned up. While double headers have been criticized by some as not the ideal way to promote the women’s game, the Big Bash model is certainly working.

On television, marquee double header games were televised after the Opening Weekend Carnival saw stand-alone games on air. The numbers have showed that the first edition’s success was not just curiosity. A 19 per cent increase in the average national audience for free-to-air channel Ten has proven that there is an appetite for women’s cricket on the tube, and vindicated the decision to telecast two games more than last year, 12 in total.

But the biggest surge has come from the latest innovation. As part of the plan to ensure the success of the last edition could be eclipsed, Cricket Australia invested heavily in broadcasting every non-television game live on Facebook, their website and app. This means paying for multiple teams of cameras, commentators, technicians and the logistical costs of travel and lodging, all around the country.

It has paid off though. The live stream has attracted seven lakh views so far. A rough calculation says that is an average of more than 21,000 views for 33 games, not counting the seven that have been broadcast on Ten so far. More importantly, the live stream has allowed the WBBL to compile and broadcast highlights on news and social media outlets. Add those figures in, and the viewership crosses 4.6 million. The WBBL Facebook page has garnered 60,000 likes so far; before the tournament, there were only a few thousand.

“We had such a great year last year, wanted to back that up and sustain the success” said Anthony Everard, head of Big Bash. “There is no doubt we have done that. If anything we have had a bigger and better competition.”

Amidst all the high-flying figures and hard-hitting shots, the product – the tournament itself – remains delicately balanced, with four teams currently tied for second place. And despite being only two years old, there are strong loyalties among fans, partly carried over from the BBL. “The rating are starting to reflect the parochialism of the league; that tribalism is there”, Channel Ten’s network executive-BBL told ABC radio. “When we started, everyone watched everything. Now there is genuine parochial following in each of the states for their teams.”

But the fun in a Ferrero Rocher isn’t just in the sweet, crunchy taste; it’s also in the cute ball shaped golden packaging and the transparent boxes they come in. The franchises have applied the same promotion and fan engagement strategies they had in place for the BBL to the WBBL, retrofitted for more diverse fan base. For instance, most teams introduced a female version to their mascots: Along the Melbourne Stars’ Starman, Starlett also does cartwheels and dances on the outfield, high-fiving fans young and old. “Linking the competition with the men’s gives it extra exposure; it creates the hype,” said Lisa Keightly, former Australian international and Perth Scorchers WBBL coach. “It helps with the profiling and selling the brand.”

Radio and TV ads for the WBBL were flashing long before the BBL began, advertising its early start. Both BBL and WBBL logos are also common appearances at bus stops and train stations, with the tagline, ‘Summer’s greatest hit’. And after games, the boundaries between players and fans are broken down as far as security will allow: players spend up to 15 minutes at the boundary after every game posing for selfies. Fans carry around team sheets which are provided at the ground, looking for the one player whose autograph they don’t have. All this usually means journalist often have to wait a long time before getting to speak to the players. Not complaining though.

Off the field, a social media team of at least three people packing cameras, tripods and laptops accompany the team to each venue, big or small. They are the ones responsible for real time Twitter updates, in action photos, and post match interviews that go online minutes after the conclusion of games. Free placards, face painting, complimentary sunscreen and running barbeques are a constant at suburban grounds, where the crowds have been more than healthy. Sometimes there is even free coffee. Yes, free coffee.

Between games, there are coaching clinics so that young girls can learn directly from their heroes. Between innings, there are ‘catch the high ball’ competitions for lucky fans who turn up in team kit. Between women’s and men’s double header matches, there are medal ceremonies at the hands of the club’s star player, for the winning teams of local tournaments the franchise organize over the year. Not to mention the stunt bike shows and Guy Sebastian mini concerts.

Outside games, there are air castles, mini nets, and selfie spots, in case your kid (or you) need a break from cricket. And infected by the cricket on the ground, there are impromptu games of cricket on in the car park around the stadium.

My personal favourite though, is this: children, usually under 10 years old, who participate in local cricket programs, get closer to the players and the pitch than anyone else. Before each innings of every game, 11 children form a circle around the infield, waiting for the fielders to arrive. The cricketers finally emerge from the dugouts. They each sign and present one cap to every child, before finding their places on the field. The kids are then escorted off the field by a volunteer. As they trot off, they beam further as the opposition batters walk past them. At the boundary, they are greeted by high-fives from the mascots. And off they go, all smiles, to find their parents.

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Think of your biggest cricketing hero. Imagine what it would be like to meet her that close to the wicket, and carry home not just a cap with a squiggle, but an imprint. Would the first thing you say to your mom and dad be anything other than, “I want to play cricket like her! Can we come to the next game too?” It will be very surprising if, 10, maybe 15 years later, we don’t hear the story of a few of these children when they play for Australia.

Year on year, it is the wrapping as much as the sweetness itself that will pull cricket fans back for more. Candyfloss cricket. “A bite, some sweetness, and then…”

… Everything.