Photo Credit: New Zealand Cricket
All four Auckland and Northern Districts sides will miss the opening rounds of the Domestic cricket season, as the impact of Auckland’s Level 3 and 4 lockdowns necessitates a pragmatic approach to the 2021-22 season, announced today.
Reigning Plunket Shield champions Canterbury get the summer underway on Saturday 23 October, hosting Ross Taylor and the Central Stags at Hagley Oval, while at the Basin Reserve, 2019-20 champions the Wellington Firebirds host the Otago Volts.
The Central Hinds and Otago Sparks kick-start the women’s season on 30 and 31 October, with ground-breaking Hallyburton Johnstone fixtures at Saxton Oval where the growth of the female game locally will be acknowledged by the first women’s Domestic matches to be played in Nelson.
Now the schedule gets a bit more complicated, as NZC endeavours to allow adequate time for Auckland-based players to get game-ready.
The Auckland Aces need to wait until round 3 to begin their Plunket Shield season on Sunday 7 November. Their Round 1 clash against Northern Districts Men and Round 2 fixture with Canterbury have been postponed, with details of all rescheduled matches to be confirmed by NZC at a later date.
Last season’s HBJ finalists the Auckland Hearts and (defending champions) Canterbury Magicians will likewise make delayed starts to their campaigns, that will begin with a doubleheader weekend at Rangiora’s Mainpower Oval on 6 and 7 November.
Northern Districts Women have five players based in Auckland and therefore will also open their summer on the same weekend (6-7 November) against Wellington Blaze, at another international venue, Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval.
Canterbury will be out to defend their unprecedented haul of four trophies last season, with only the Dream11 Super Smash men’s title having eluded them in their golden summer.
GM of Cricket Operations for NZC, Catherine Campbell, acknowledged the complexity of organising this season’s fixtures in the midst of a Covid 19 Delta outbreak.
“It’s certainly been a challenge,” she said.
“I’d like to thank all six Major Associations and their teams, along with the CPA, for their assistance and cooperation.
“We’ve had to adopt a flexible approach to permit players to perform at their best and maximise playing opportunities – whilst of course complying with Government requirements, and ensuring the health and well-being of all participants are protected.
“The schedule has been changing right up to yesterday, and may well change again if Auckland’s Level 3 Lockdown continues. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it – we’re confident we have room in the schedule to make up matches as desired.”
A new feature of the men’s Ford Trophy this summer will see the first four rounds (12 matches) played as weekday fixtures in between Dream11 Super Smash weekends, providing white-ball continuity for players.
NZC has confirmed Dream11 Super Smash will be predominantly played on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this season; details of the T20 calendar to be revealed in coming weeks.
Entering its 51st summer, The Ford Trophy season will span Tuesday, 30 November 2021 to 26 February 2022. The Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Final will be centre stage on 19 February, while the eighth round of four-day Plunket Shield action will begin on 28 March 2022 to close the scheduled season.
Campbell confirmed the 31 March end date would allow the option to reschedule Lockdown-affected Auckland matches in a viable early April window.
Find updates from the championships on the NZC App or via social media with official hashtags #PlunketShield #FordTrophy and #HBJShield