BBL's supplementary spots in spotlight after schedule reveal

Cricket Australia's 2024-25 international schedule confirms no men's internationals after New Year's Test for second time in three years

The KFC Big Bash League's new marquee supplementary player rule is set to take on extra significance next summer with confirmation the last three weeks of January are set to be free of men's internationals for the second time in three years.

Cricket Australia this evening announced details of the 2024-25 international schedule with Australia's men to play their only white-ball fixtures of the home summer against Pakistan in November.

It means the fifth Border-Gavaskar Test against India at the SCG from January 3-7 will be Pat Cummins' side's final engagement of the home summer, paving the way for Australia's Test stars to return to their Big Bash clubs for the closing stages of the home-and-away season.

Like when South Africa withdrew from their scheduled ODI series against Australia in January 2023, all of Australia's men's players are set to be available for a window of BBL matches pending injuries and management of workloads ahead of their scheduled two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in February.

While the BBL|14 schedule is yet to be announced, it's likely that the regular season will conclude at a similar time to the previous season with finals again to take place around the last weekend of January.

Usman Khawaja (Brisbane Heat), Nathan Lyon (Melbourne Renegades), Scott Boland (Melbourne Stars) and Mitch Marsh (Perth Scorchers) are the only Test squad regulars signed on for BBL|14.

Marnus Labuschagne (Heat) and Steve Smith (Sydney Sixers) are both out of contract at their respective clubs, but it's understood both remain keen to return next season.

That leaves Adelaide Strikers stalwarts Travis Head and Alex Carey, Cameron Green and fast bowling trio Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood currently without BBL deals for the 2024-25 summer.

Although they didn't play a game last season due to the Test series against the West Indies in late January, Cummins (Thunder) and Starc (Sixers) were signed as marquee supplementary players by their respective clubs for BBL|13.

Brisbane left Thunder-struck by rapid Cummins

Each club was allocated two marquee supplementary list spots ahead of BBL|13 as part of an overhaul of Big Bash contracting rules, and that provision could prove even more valuable next season with a wider window of potential availability for the nation's Test stars.

The supplementary list allows clubs to sign up to two CA-contracted players with limited availability each season without taking up one of the primary spots on their 18-man roster.

They would then be able to bring the nationally contracted player into their match-day squad should the chance arise.

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While the chance never presented itself during BBL|13 for either Cummins or Starc due to the narrow 11-day gap between the Pakistan and West Indies Test series, both indicated they were keen to stay involved with their original Big Bash clubs.

"I'm a Sixer at heart and when I was offered the opportunity to come back into the squad via the marquee supplementary player list I jumped at the chance," Starc said last December.

Cummins added: "I'm a Western Sydney guy at heart so I'm really glad I can be a part of the team."

Freeing up the late-January period from men's international cricket had been a key focus for CA during negotiations for the 2024-27 Future Tours Program and it's long been an ambition of Big Bash Leagues boss Alistair Dobson to get as many Australian internationals playing in the competition as possible.

It also looks set to be the case the following summer in 2025-26 with no men's international cricket scheduled in January following the New Year's Ashes Test, while in January 2027 Australia are scheduled to tour India for the return five-Test Border-Gavaskar series.

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