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Latest Australian domestic season to end on April 30, Sheffield Shield trimmed by one round

Latest Australian domestic season to end on April 30, Sheffield

News

State squad depth could be severely tested by Australia’s international tours while there may be a considerable overlap with IPL

Australia’s domestic season will have its latest ever finish with the Sheffield Shield final slated for the middle of April and the One-Day Cup final to be played at the end of the month.

The Sheffield Shield will be shortened by one round to nine but retains the traditional final which will be staged from April 15-19 with the top-ranked team hosting the match. Last season the last round of matches and the final were cancelled due to the pandemic.

The Australian domestic calendar has never previously stretched beyond the early days of April, but the lengthening of the season allows for a full One-Day Cup – with the final on April 30 – and the majority of the Shield to be played amid the Covid-19 impacted fixture list.

After the initial part of the Shield season was played in an Adelaide-based hub the remaining fixtures revert to the home-and-away format with state borders having now opened although a return of Covid-19 cases could still lead to changes.

There is also the potential for the latter part of the season to significantly overlap with next IPL and, as with the start of the domestic summer, could see players having to decide between their state and IPL teams.

Squad depth for the latter part of the season after the BBL will also be severely tested if the concurrent tours of South Africa (Tests) and New Zealand (T20Is) take place as scheduled in February and March.

Victoria, who only played two Shield matches in the Adelaide hub due to their quarantine requirements, will have an especially demanding schedule with seven four-day games and a full seven-match one-day campaign.

New South Wales and Queensland have six Shield matches remaining while Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia have five. Queensland are currently top of the table ahead of defending champions NSW.

Earlier this week a full eight-round Women’s National Cricket League was confirmed starting on January 15 with the final on March 27.

“To have achieved close to a full slate of matches in a pandemic-afflicted summer is testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone in Australian Cricket and demonstrates a collective commitment to supporting and promoting domestic cricket,” Peter Roach, Cricket Australia’s head of cricket operations, said.

“Today’s announcement locks in the final pieces of the most complex scheduling puzzle ever attempted by cricket and we are exceptionally grateful to our players, State and Territory Associations and the ACA for their patience in this process and look forward to delivering a compelling end to the domestic season.”

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