Melbourne, July 22: The third edition of Big Bash League (BBL) Twenty20 tournament will be held from December 20, 2013 to February 15, 2014, the organisers announced on Monday.
The format of the league has remained the same as its opening two seasons, with 32 round matches played over 38 days before the semi-finals on 7 and 8 February. The BBL 3 final will be held on Saturday February 15.
The explosive action will start on Friday December 20 with the derby between the Melbourne Stars and the Melbourne Renegades at the MCG. The corresponding match last year drew a record 46,581 fans as the Renegades completed a season sweep over the Stars.
The following night, attention turns to Sydney as the Sixers and Thunder look to get their seasons off to a winning start at the SCG.
An afternoon fixture between the Hobart Hurricanes and Adelaide Strikers, followed by the BBL 2 final re-match between the Brisbane Heat and the Perth Scorchers on Sunday 22 December will close a bumper opening weekend.
Former Australian stars Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting will be taking their places behind the microphone in a highly-regarded commentary team for the tournament.
Cricket Australia's Executive General Manager Operations Mike McKenna said the key feature of the BBL 3 fixture is a move to ensure all regular season matches are played during the school holidays to allow more kids and families to attend summer's best value entertainment.
"The later start to the season means that families will have a greater opportunity to come to the BBL as part of their school holiday summer entertainment," he said.
BBL 3 Fixture Highlights
# All regular season matches to be played in the school holiday period
# Season to start with the derbies in Melbourne and Sydney, and a final replay in Brisbane
# New Year's Eve match in Adelaide - a first for the BBL
# New Year's Day double-header
# Australia Day public holiday match at the MCG to finish the regular season
# 32 regular season matches in 38 days with the semi-finals and final played over two weekends from Friday 7 February
# Friday 20 December: Opening match and Melbourne Derby #1: Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades at the MCG
# Saturday 21 December: Sydney Derby #1: Sydney Sixers v Sydney Thunder at the SCG
# Saturday 22 December: BBL 2 champions start their campaign in a re-match of last year's final: Brisbane Heat v Perth Scorchers at the Gabba
# Thursday 26 December: Boxing Day at the WACA: Perth Scorchers v Melbourne Renegades
# Tuesday 31 December: New Year's Eve at Adelaide Oval: Adelaide Strikers v Perth Scorchers
# Wednesday January 1: New Year's Day double-header: Hobart Hurricanes v Melbourne Renegades; Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars
# Saturday 4 January: Melbourne Derby #2: Melbourne Renegades v Melbourne Stars
# Saturday 25 January: Sydney Derby #2: Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers
# Friday 7 February: Semi-final 1
# Saturday 8 February: Semi-final 2
# Saturday 15 February: Final