The biggest season of the KFC Big Bash League will feature matches on the Gold Coast, a game on Christmas Eve and a home-and-away season which sees each club play 14 matches before finals.
Cricket Australia today confirmed the full schedule for next season's BBL, which will see each side play each twice for a total of 59 matches between the tournament opener on December 19, 2018 and the final on February 17, 2019.
A month after Gold Coast hosts its first international with a T20 between Australia and South Africa, Metricon Stadium will hold the first of its three BBL|08 matches.
Brisbane Heat face off against the Hobart Hurricanes on December 22 and the Sydney Sixers on January 1, before the Melbourne Stars play a home game on the Gold Coast against Sydney Thunder on January 5.
Every match of the BBL season will be shown live on subscription television provider Fox Sports, while free-to-air network Channel Seven will show 43 of those games. Fans not near a television set will be able to tune into Macquarie and SEN1116, and Cricket Australia digital channels, for radio broadcasts.
The move to a full home-and-away season ensures a more equitable fixture, with Big Bash Leagues head Kim McConnie explaining there will be more games at family-friendly times.
"The objective of moving the BBL to a full home and away fixture is consistent with Cricket Australia’s strategy of growing the Big Bash and becoming number one for fans across Australia," said McConnie. "With more games, in more locations, we believe this is going to be one of the most exciting, action-packed BBL seasons to-date.
"This summer, there will be 56 regular season matches, up from 40 last season, meaning each of the eight teams will play each other twice in addition to the two semi-finals and the final.
"The season will extend past school holidays, so as the competition moves into February, there will be more family-friendly timeslots on weekends to help drive participation."
For the first time, a BBL match will be staged simultaneously with a home Test.
As day four of Australia's day-night Test against Sri Lanka unfolds at the Gabba, the Melbourne Stars will face Brisbane Heat at the MCG. Intriguingly, that game will be held at the same time as the men’s final of the Australian Open, only a short walk away at Rod Laver Arena.
This summer's Big Bash schedule also sees the competition run further into February than it has before.
The first 36 days of the tournament will see 42 matches played with seven double-headers (two matches in one day) and even a triple-header on January 13 with Sydney Thunder, Melbourne Renegades and Perth Scorchers all hosting games.
The frequency of matches then eases in late January, with 18 games to be played on the final 24 days of competition.
As reported yesterday, BBL matches will be played on Christmas Eve, with the Hurricanes to host the Stars at Blundstone Arena and the Thunder to host the Sixers at Spotless Stadium. Despite some speculation, there will not be a game held on Christmas Day.
There will be no shortage of cricket over the holiday period however, with the action resuming on Boxing Day as the Scorchers' women's and men's Big Bash teams play matches in the evening. Add the MCG Test into the equation and it equals potentially 15 hours of cricket to feast on for viewers recovering from the season's festivities.
The BBL will also return to Alice Springs and Launceston after games were held there for the first time last summer. The Adelaide Strikers will host the Scorchers at Traeger Park in the Northern Territory’s desert outpost, while the Hurricanes will play two games at UTAS Stadium in Tasmania's north.
The knockout finals system of 1 v 4 and 2 v 3 semi-finals before the final remains in place.
"The new landmark broadcast partnership we have with Fox Sports and Seven West Media will enable us to broadcast more BBL matches than ever before," McConnie continued.
"Fox Sports will broadcast all 59 matches, including 16 matches exclusively, while Seven will broadcast 43 matches across the season."