Teams set to play an uneven number of Shield matches with finalists to be decided on an average points per game
Cricket Australia has confirmed the Sheffield Shield and Marsh Cup domestic competitions will recommence on February 9 despite Western Australia’s hard border currently preventing teams travelling in and out without 14 days quarantine.
The majority of the BBL-winning Perth Scorchers squad still remain in Melbourne seven days on from winning the title after the WA government’s border stance has prevented them from re-entering the state, although a small number have returned to begin 14 days home quarantine early due to student exemptions.
The majority of the players and staff will travel on Saturday February 5 and begin two weeks isolation. Australia coach Justin Langer has also been stuck on the east coast for three weeks since the Hobart Test concluded without returning home to Perth and is also due to fly home on Saturday.
There is no timeframe placed on when WA’s border will open but Western Australia’s Shield and Marsh Cup teams, who sit top of the table of both competitions, are scheduled to play a one-day game in Melbourne on March 8 with the final due to be played in the same city on March 11. They are also scheduled to play a Shield match against New South Wales in Sydney starting on March 15 before returning to Perth to host a four-day match against Victoria on March 23. But with the current border rules it remains to be seen how that match will be played.
There will be two rounds of Shield matches in February but WA will not participate in any of those four matches. Queensland host New South Wales at the Gabba on February 9 while South Australia host Victoria at Adelaide Oval. All of the potential Australia Test players that are not involved in the concurrent T20I series against Sri Lanka are likely to play in those matches, meaning the likes of Marnus Labuschagne, Usman Khawaja, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson, Nathan Lyon, Marcus Harris, Scott Boland and Alex Carey could all play at least one match before heading to Pakistan later in the month.
WA’s inability to participate in games in February and the Covid issues faced by New South Wales and Victoria prior to the BBL means that teams are set to play an uneven number of Shield games. Queensland are scheduled to play a total of nine matches, Tasmania and South Australia eight, while New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia will play seven under the revised fixture. The Shield finalists will be decided based on average points per game.
“Following a fairly challenging BBL period, the medical advice we received recommended a short break post BBL, along with a break somewhere within the remaining fixtures to allow participants a breather from the recommended playing protocols,” Peter Roach, Cricket Australia’s head of cricket operations, said. “Whilst Cricket Australia want to maximise the number of matches played in pivotal domestic competitions, the health and wellbeing of participants is a priority.”
All six states are set to play six Marsh Cup matches each with the top two teams on the points table set to meet in the final which is locked in for the Junction Oval in Melbourne.
The WNCL will be played between February 22 and March 25 with fixtures due to be confirmed next week.
Marsh Sheffield Shield fixtures
Feb 9-12: South Australia v Victoria, Adelaide Oval
Feb 9-12: Queensland v New South Wales, Gabba
Feb 18-21: Victoria v Queensland, CitiPower Centre
Feb 18-21: New South Wales v Tasmania, SCG
Mar 2-5: Queensland v South Australia, Gabba
Mar 15-18: New South Wales v Western Australia, Bankstown Oval
Mar 15-18: Victoria v Tasmania, Junction Oval
Mar 23-26: Western Australia v Victoria, WACA Ground
Mar 23-26: South Australia v New South Wales, Karen Rolton Oval
Mar 23-26: Tasmania v Queensland, Bellerive Oval
Mar 31-Apr 4: Final – TBC v TBC, TBC
Marsh One-Day Cup Fixtures
Feb 14: Queensland v New South Wales, Gabba (D/N)
Feb 15: South Australia v Victoria, Karen Rolton Oval
Feb 23: Victoria v Queensland, Junction Oval
Feb 23: New South Wales v Tasmania, North Sydney Oval (D/N)
Feb 25: New South Wales v Tasmania, North Sydney Oval (D/N)
Mar 6: Tasmania v Victoria, Bellerive Oval
Mar 8: Victoria v Western Australia, Junction Oval
Mar 8: New South Wales v South Australia, TBC
Mar 11: Final – TBC v TBC, Junction Oval