NZ Cricket lock in new domestic schedule

GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 05:00 16/08/2014

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Canterbury coach Gary Stead has given his tick to New Zealand Cricket's new domestic format which has been locked in for the next four seasons.

NZC yesterday announced that the T20 competition would be staged as a block of matches during November and early December followed by the one-day Ford Trophy in January.

The Plunket Shield will start the season, with Canterbury having their opening match against Wellington at Hagley Oval in late October, before two in December and then the remaining seven games later in the season.

Stead said he supported playing the T20 series as a block of matches rather than chopping and changing formats.

''It should flow on nicely for TV after the ITM Cup. Sure the weather can play a part but it's like that at just about any time.''

Stead said it would be easier for training and competition focus.

Another benefit is the possible availability of players who are also competing in the Australian Big Bash league, which follows instead of clashing with the New Zealand season.

''It means there maybe some more players available wanting to play both series,'' Stead said.

Last season Canterbury made a contentious call not to field any international players for the T20 season and still reached the semifinals.

This season the Kings, as the new Canterbury T20 franchise is being rebranded to from the Wizards, has yet to decide about any imports.

''Obviously from the contracted players we have there is some lack of depth in the top order batting so that's maybe something we will consider.''

However Stead said the overseas player situation was quite complex with a number of countries touring in November and December along with the Cricket World Cup on the horizon.

''It's a discussion we are still yet to have.''

Stead said he could see the merit in staging the one-dayers during the spectator-friendly holiday period and to have continuity in the scheduling was beneficial.

However Stead said the second part of the four-day first-class season when the bulk of the matches would be played was going to be tough on players.

''It will be a tough grind and probably a battle of the fittest. There will not doubt be a few injuries and it might be a case of who is left standing.''

Canterbury's Plunket Shield schedule:

Oct 25-29: v Wellington, Hagley Oval. Dec 11-14: v Central Districts, Hagley Oval. Dec 18-22: v Otago, Mainpower Oval, Rangiora. Feb 6-9: v Wellington, Wellington. Feb 15-18: v Auckland, Mainpower Oval, Rangiora. Mar 1-4: v Auckland, Auckland. Mar 9-12: v Northern Districts, Hagley Oval. Mar 17-20: v Central Districts, Nelson. Mar 25-28: v Otago, Dunedin. April 1-4: v Northern Districts, Mt Maunganui.

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The T20 and one-day scheduled will be released during the next two weeks.

- The Press

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