India’s decision to oppose a day-night Test as part of its upcoming Australia tour has ensured a flow-on effect to the JLT Sheffield Shield, with no pink ball fixtures programmed in the 2018-19 schedule released today.
For the first time in six summers, the entire Shield season will be played as day games featuring a red ball, albeit the English-manufactured Dukes version in the second half of the domestic season before a decision is made on whether to continue that trial from 2019-20.
As reported by cricket.com.au yesterday, the 2018-19 season will also see a revamp of the JLT One-Day Cup competition which reverts to six teams with the discontinuation of a CA XI’s involvement and an extended finals format.
More than half (13 of 23) of those JLT Cup games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports along with the Shield final scheduled for 28 March to 1 April, with all JLT Cup and Shield fixtures to be streamed live on cricket.com.au and the CA Live App.
The Women’s National Cricket League, the final of which will also be live-streamed on February 9, will be staged over three carnival-style weekends in September, November and February with the opening match on September 16 scheduled for Bill Pippen Oval on the Gold Coast.
The schedule for the men's and women's Big Bash League competitions is expected to be announced next month.
Among the other notable elements of the domestic men’s and women’s schedules unveiled today are:
* Five full rounds of Sheffield Shield matches scheduled prior to the summer’s opening Test against India, starting on 6 December
* One of those Shield matches (Western Australia v New South Wales) to be held at Perth’s new stadium before it hosts it maiden Test match from 14-18 December
* Karen Rolton Oval in Adelaide to be used for the first time as a Sheffield Shield venue in March next year
* CA XI featuring young development players to be involved in five tour matches (three men’s, two women’s) in red and white-ball formats throughout the season
* Toyota Futures League competition will be expanded from its current four-day format to also include a T20 component during January, in which a CA XI under-19 team will take part
A women’s CA XI will feature in back-to-back T20 matches against New Zealand and Australia in Sydney on 27 September, in preparation for the subsequent T20I series between the trans-Tasman rivals that begins immediately after the AFL grand final on 29 September.
The men’s CA XI will appear in a T20 match against South Africa ahead of the Proteas’ three-match Gillette ODI series in November, and three-day fixtures against the touring India and Sri Lanka teams as part of their warm-up for respective Test campaigns.
CA’s Head of Cricket Operations, Peter Roach, said that while the involvement of the CA XI in the JLT One-Day Cup was deemed to have served its purpose after being introduced three summers ago, development teams would retain a strategic presence on Australia’s cricket calendar.
“The CA XI is an important element in the in the Australian cricket pathway for men and women, and the investment in youth remains a big focus,” Roach said.
"CA will continue to work with state associations to provide opportunities to young players, to test and stretch players.
"Following some strong feedback from states, the Futures League format has been adapted to include Twenty20 matches.
"Exposing our emerging and younger players to the shortest form of cricket has been recognised as a priority in our strategy, and the holding of the Futures League T20 round in late January should also allow for well-performed players from our Premier Cricket T20 competitions to be given the opportunity to shine on this stage.
"It’s crucial that cricket remains accessible to fans, both in metropolitan and regional areas and it’s pleasing to be able to take domestic cricket to both Townsville and the Gold Coast this season, with three JLT One-Day Cup matches being played at Townsville’s Riverway Stadium.
"And two WNCL matches scheduled for Bill Pippen Oval at the Kerrydale complex at Robina.
"This will be the first time the Queensland Fire have played at the Bill Pippen Oval, which will undergo a major upgrade next year after the Gold Coast Dolphins secured $500,000 from the State Government’s Female Friendly Facilities Fund to upgrade change rooms for both players and officials at their home ground."
CA’s decision to continue utilising Dukes balls for the second half of the Sheffield Shield season reflects one of the key reasons they were introduced for use in concert with the locally made Kookaburra balls at domestic first-class level.
It was felt that the Dukes, which has shown a propensity to retain its hardness for longer and swing more pronouncedly than its Kookaburra counterpart, might better equip Australia’s Test players for next year’s Ashes campaign in the UK where England have not sustained a series loss since 2001.
But Roach said a decision on whether the Dukes continues to be part of the Australia summer, where it has produced a significant impact in the hands of swing and seam bowlers, would not be made until after that 2019 Ashes series.
"The feedback from the coaches is that adaptability among both batters and bowlers is a really important skills-set,” Roach told cricket.com.au recently.
"They value the ability to use two different types of balls because it allows them to coach players in different ways, and to see who’s more adaptable than others.
"We will be using the Dukes balls in the Shield after Christmas again this year, and at season’s end we’ll re-assess what the best way forward is.
"There’s certainly a feeling that the fast bowlers favour the Dukes balls, while batsmen and spinners probably favour the Kookaburra a bit more and I don’t think that’s changed through the years.
"We think that both balls are performing a role at the minute, and we are keen to continue working with both suppliers to keep seeing improvements in those balls.
"It’s been terrific that both Kookaburra and Dukes have been keen to hear and respond to feedback, and to keep producing and improving ball the balls we’re using.”