Once in a while, I like to remind people that domestic cricket still exists. Each cricket playing nation has domestic First Class and One Day competitions. We are usually aware of the local T20 tournaments but who follows the Sheffield Shield, for example? Did you know that in the off season, that Hughes left the Blues to eat Crow? And that Uzzie (Usman Khawaja) is now a Bull?
While not many follow it, domestic cricket is still very important as the melting pot for international cricketers. And domestic cricket is often a trial ground for innovation, especially in limited overs cricket (as long as the innovations don’t cost any money). Did you know that last season, the Australian domestic one-day cricket allowed 12 players on each side, and was 45 overs per team, spilt into 20/25 over blocks? And that this year, the matches will return to 50 overs but bowlers will be allowed up to 13 overs each? While not many of these innovations reach the international stage, where do you think the free hit for a no-ball rule came from?
To underline the importance of domestic cricket, Cricket Australia has announced an astonishing move. They have rescheduled two Shield matches, moving them forward to allow them to be played before the Test series against South Africa. This is not astonishing in that it shows some simple commonsense – it is a good move – but perhaps such a show of commonsense from a cricket administrator is not expected.
The rescheduling is partly motivated but the early return from the T20 Champions League of the Perth Scorchers and they players therein. I would imagine that this is also motivated, in part, because of the initial poor scheduling. I have been following the Shield this season and was dismayed that the fixtures dried up for a couple of weeks in October, starting up again just in time for the Test players to miss out on another gallop. Fortunately this has been corrected. Better late than never!