Melbourne, Aug 7: Cricket Australia (CA) on Tuesday announced the full 2012-13 interstate season programme, which this year starts almost a month earlier than last summer to give players adequate opportunity to prepare and put their hand up for potential higher honours ahead of South Africa arriving in November.
Fox Sports continues to show its commitment to Australian interstate cricket and will cover a record 62 days of action, split into 35 KFC T20 Big Bash League games including the Big Final double-header with the Women's T20 Final, 21 Ryobi One-Day Cup encounters, the five-day Bupa Sheffield Shield Final and the Prime Minister's XI encounter, CA media release stated.
The 2012-13 season opens with Western Australia hosting New South Wales in a RYOBI Cup match at the WACA on Sunday 16 September while the Bupa Sheffield Shield season opens a couple of days later when the same two teams clash at the same venue.
The Ryobi Cup Final will be played on Wednesday 27 February while the Bupa Sheffield Shield will conclude with the traditional five-day encounter starting on Friday 22 March.
Both the Bupa Sheffield Shield and Ryobi Cup remain at the same number of matches as last season.
Ten of 31 Bupa Sheffield Shield matches will be played ahead of the first Vodafone Test against South Africa and seven of those 10 games after the ICC World Twenty20, giving aspirants plenty of opportunities to press their claims for selection and valuable preparation ahead of South Africa arriving.
The majority of those players playing in the 2012 Champions League Twenty20 will have the chance to play two Bupa Sheffield Shield matches and will also have at least one Shield game or potentially an Australia A match (if selected) to make the transition back to the longer format cricket when they return before the first Vodafone Test.
As also scheduled last summer, the Bupa Sheffield Shield and RYOBI Cup will again have a break while all the action and excitement of the KFC T20 Big Bash League takes over from 7 December to 19 January.
Women's cricket action starts in October with both the one-day WNCL competition and Women's T20 tournament with New South Wales and Victoria will be aiming to defend their respective titles.
The WNCL will take on added meaning this season, providing players with an opportunity to put strong performances on the board and put their hand up for selection ahead of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup being played in India in February/March next year.
The WT20 Final will again, for the third straight year, be broadcast live and exclusively on Fox Sports and played as a double-header with the Big Final of the KFC T20 Big Bash League.
Commenting on the announcement of the 2012-13 interstate schedule CA Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said:
"Cricket Australia has this year moved to start the interstate season almost a month earlier than last year to provide players with the best preparation for the summer ahead."