This summer’s Bupa Sheffield Shield competition will feature a new points system but at this stage Cricket Australia won’t confirm reports that the changes will include a re-introduction of bonus points. The proposal, agreed to at a CA board meeting held in Brisbane earlier this year and currently the subject of ongoing consultation with the Shield’s State Associations, is designed to further narrow the gap between match conditions, particularly the preparation of pitches, in the first-class and Test arenas. It is understood the new system will be introduced on a trial basis with a subsequent review to decide on whether it is adopted as a permanent measure. While declining to comment on reports that the revamped points system will do away with the current allocation of first innings points in favour of a sliding scale of points for runs made and wickets taken within the first 100 overs, a CA spokesperson confirmed a new points system will operate in the 2014-15 season. “We are working through a consultation process around changes to the Bupa Sheffield Shield points system,” the spokesperson said “At this stage we’re not in a position to elaborate further on what those changes will be, however we do acknowledge there will be alternations to the current system with the aim of creating a more even contest between bat and ball. “We’re hopeful of making an announcement in the near future.” Under the current system, teams are awarded two points for taking a lead on the first innings, and six points if they can secure an outright victory. There are no points awarded for a draw, although that may change under the proposed new system in order to provide further incentive for teams that are clearly not in a position to chase a win. It is another element of the proposal that is designed to more closely replicate the scenarios experienced in Test cricket where, in many cases, holding out for a draw is almost as valuable as a victory. Last summer, Cricket Australia instructed curators at first-class venues to make a conscious effort to prepare fewer ‘green top’ pitches in order to ensure Shield matches no longer became a day one ‘shoot out’ and instead followed a similar rhythm to Test matches. This enabled spin bowlers to play a more significant role as games wore on, and batsmen to better develop their games against both fast and slow bowling. The previous incarnation of the bonus points system, which was employed in Shield cricket for a decade from the 1970s, brought about an increased number of outright results with the points only on offer in the first 100 overs. However, while it encouraged teams to score at a faster rate in order to secure points it also meant declarations became common place in order to deprive bowling teams of wickets and many a tail-end batsman spent negligible time in the middle.