Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
CA confirms latest ever finish to domestic summer
Cricket Australia confirm the schedule for the remainder of the Sheffield Shield and the men's domestic 50-over competition
16 December 2020, 12:00 PM AEST
Australian cricket will have its latest ever finish to a season, with Cricket Australia revealing a marathon men's domestic schedule that stretches into the final day of April.
Despite reducing the number of Marsh Sheffield Shield regular-season matches from 10 to nine per team, the first-class competition is set for its latest finish in its 128-year history with the five-day final to be held from April 15.
The Marsh One-Day Cup will be played in its entirety from February 16 (between Shield matches at first, before then continuing after the Shield final) with all states to play seven 50-over games apiece before the cricket season finally ends with the final on April 30.
The Sheffield Shield season has previously stretched into April, but never past the first week, while the one-day competition has never played games that late into the season.
With Australia scheduled to run concurrent tours of New Zealand (for limited-overs matches) and South Africa (for Tests), the final months of the season are set to sorely test the depth of state squads.
It also looks set to clash with the expected start of the 2021 Indian Premier League. Many Australian players already missed the first four rounds of the Sheffield Shield back in October-November as they took part in the delayed 2020 edition of the lucrative T20 league.
While state and nationally contracted players have typically remained with their state teams when the IPL has previously begun with the domestic season still going, such a long overlap is unprecedented.
Players who are picked up in the IPL may have to choose between fine-tuning their skills in the best domestic T20 league in the world ahead of the 2021 T20 World Cup (to be held in India from October), and playing in a Sheffield Shield final or 50-over games for their states.
The schedule will be particularly taxing for Victoria, who only played two Shield games in the Adelaide bubble earlier this year due to complications arising over quarantine requirements.
Should they make the final, the Vics will play eight Shield games and four of their seven Marsh Cup games in nine-and-a-half weeks. They could play as many as 41 days out of 75 if they make both competition's finals.
Reigning champions New South Wales and Queensland each have six regular-season Shield games remaining, while Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania have five left.
The Redbacks will play all but one of their remaining Shield matches away from home after the first part of the competition was hosted entirely in Adelaide.
Tasmania on the other hand will only play one Shield game after the BBL away from Blundstone Arena in Hobart.
In addition to the return of domestic cricket to the Test venues likes the SCG, the MCG, the Gabba and Adelaide Oval, Shield games will also be played at the WACA Ground, the Junction Oval, Allan Border Field, Wollongong’s North Dalton Park while there will be one-dayers held at North Sydney Oval, Bankstown Oval and Karen Rolton Oval in Adelaide.
Foxtel will again broadcast the five-day Sheffield Shield final, as well as 13 of the Marsh One-Day Cup games, while the remaining Shield and 50-over games will be live streamed on Cricket Network.
CA's head of operations Peter Roach said the fixture had been the "most complex scheduling puzzle ever attempted by cricket".
"To have achieved close to a full slate of matches in a pandemic-afflicted summer is testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone in Australian Cricket and demonstrates a collective commitment to supporting and promoting domestic cricket,” said Roach.