Cricket Australia (CA) has today announced the full 2012-13 interstate season program, which this year starts almost a month earlier than last summer to give players adequate opportunity to prepare and put their hand up for potential higher honours ahead of South Africa arriving in November.
FOX SPORTS continues to show its commitment to Australian interstate cricket and will cover a record 62 days of action, split into 35 KFC T20 Big Bash League games including the BIG FINAL double-header with the Women’s T20 Final, 21 RYOBI One-Day Cup encounters, the five-day Bupa Sheffield Shield Final and the Prime Minister’s XI encounter.
RYOBI One-Day Cup
The 2012-13 season opens with Western Australia hosting New South Wales in a RYOBI Cup match at the WACA on Sunday 16 September while the Bupa Sheffield Shield season opens a couple of days later when the same two teams clash at the same venue.
The RYOBI Cup Final will be played on Wednesday 27 February while the Bupa Sheffield Shield will conclude with the traditional five-day encounter starting on Friday 22 March.
Both the Bupa Sheffield Shield and RYOBI Cup remain at the same number of matches as last season.
Bupa Sheffield Shield
Ten of 31 Bupa Sheffield Shield matches will be played ahead of the first Vodafone Test against South Africa and seven of those 10 games after the ICC World Twenty20, giving aspirants plenty of opportunities to press their claims for selection and valuable preparation ahead of South Africa arriving.
The majority of those players playing in the 2012 Champions League Twenty20 will have the chance to play two Bupa Sheffield Shield matches and will also have at least one Shield game or potentially an Australia A match (if selected) to make the transition back to the longer format cricket when they return before the first Vodafone Test.
As also scheduled last summer, the Bupa Sheffield Shield and RYOBI Cup will again have a break while all the action and excitement of the KFC T20 Big Bash League takes over from 7 December to 19 January.
Women’s cricket action starts in October with both the one-day WNCL competition and Women’s T20 tournament with New South Wales and Victoria will be aiming to defend their respective titles.
The WNCL will take on added meaning this season, providing players with an opportunity to put strong performances on the board and put their hand up for selection ahead of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup being played in India in February/March next year.
The WT20 Final will again, for the third straight year, be broadcast live and exclusively on FOX SPORTS and played as a double-header with the BIG FINAL of the KFC T20 Big Bash League.
Early start best for summer preparation
Commenting on the announcement of the 2012-13 interstate schedule CA Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said:
“Cricket Australia has this year moved to start the interstate season almost a month earlier than last year to provide players with the best preparation for the summer ahead.
“The first Vodafone Test in Brisbane is starting three weeks earlier than last season and we want to align our interstate programming accordingly to provide players with adequate opportunities to prepare for that series, as well as providing aspirants with plenty of opportunities.
“There are plenty of challenges with scheduling and we know it’s never going to align perfectly for everyone, however we feel this schedule will give our players the best opportunities to prepare and push for international honours.
“I have no doubt there will be comment about starting the season while football codes are still in operation, but we want to give our cricketers the best opportunities to prepare for international cricket and balancing that with an opportunity for some to play on a global stage, such as at Champions League Twenty20.
“It’s also terrific to again have the support of our domestic competition sponsors, KFC, Bupa, Ryobi and Toyota along with our domestic cricket broadcast partner Fox Sports who continue to prove they are a sports broadcast leader after winning an ASTRA award earlier this year for their outstanding BBL coverage.
“To have them on board for a record 62 days of coverage this season shows both Australian cricket’s and Fox Sports’ commitment to interstate cricket and to make it as accessible as possible to cricket fans around the country,” he said.
FOX SPORTS cricket expert and former Test captain Allan Border, said: "I can't remember a more exciting and entertaining domestic season than what we experienced last summer. The Big Bash League was a revelation, then we had a memorable tie in the Ryobi Cup decider and a tight finish in the Sheffield Shield Final to cap it off."
"This summer is going to be another step up. As far as Fox Sports is concerned we've made our biggest commitment ever to domestic cricket with over 60 days of coverage across the season. We now have an even longer BBL season and it's great to see that mix of top young Aussie players and quality overseas players with the likes of Gayle and Afridi coming back on board.
"The BBL is fantastic from a family entertainment point of view but was also great for Australian cricket with our upcoming players getting to mix it with the likes of Warne, Hayden, MacGill and Hogg, but also having some of those guys make a really strong contribution for their teams. Fans really embraced the competition because the mix was right and it was presented well at the games and on television," he said.
Cricket.com.au will again support interstate cricket fans by live streaming all Bupa Sheffield Shield matches, as well as live scores, news and details across all elite interstate competitions.
ABC local radio and ABC online will also continue its commitment to Australian cricket with regular coverage of interstate cricket competitions throughout the season.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 07 August, 2012 11:50AM AEDT