The Sheffield Shield will feature only one day-night round this season, but the experiment of using Dukes balls in the second half of the summer will continue after being trialled in 2016-17.
Cricket Australia has released its domestic fixtures for the coming season, during which Sheffield Shield cricket will make its debut in Cairns and will also return to the Junction Oval in Melbourne for the first time in nine years.
The domestic one-day tournament will remain in a discrete window at the start of the season and will again feature the youth-oriented Cricket Australia XI as a seventh side. Brisbane, Sydney and Perth will host one-day games before Hobart hosts the elimination final and the decider. Both the Sheffield Shield and the one-day tournament will be sponsored by risk management firm JLT.
The JLT One-Day Cup will begin on September 27 and conclude on October 21, before a day-night round opens the Sheffield Shield season at the Gabba, the WACA and Adelaide Oval from October 26. The past two summers have each featured two day-night rounds, but that has been cut back to one this year. A further two red-ball rounds will be played prior to the start of the Ashes.
Cazaly's Stadium in Cairns, which hosted two Test matches in the southern winters of 2003 and 2004, will host Shield cricket for the first time when Queensland play South Australia there from December 3. The redeveloped Junction Oval in Melbourne will hold a Victoria-New South Wales match from March 3, having not hosted a first-class match since March 2009.
That will be one of the five Shield rounds that will be played with Dukes balls, after Cricket Australia introduced that system last summer in an attempt to make players more adaptable to the different balls used around the world.
"On Dukes balls, players welcomed this change positively and our analysis from the season just gone showed that the ball slightly favoured the bowlers over the batsman when compared to the red Kookaburra ball," Peter Roach, Cricket Australia's head of cricket operations, said.
Cricket Australia also defended the ongoing inclusion of a Cricket Australia XI in the domestic one-day competition, a move that has caused some frustration among some state players, who have seen their inclusion as devaluing the competition. The Cricket Australia XI, made up of young players who failed to make their state squads, has won only one of its 11 games in the two years of its inclusion.
"After just two years, Australian cricket is starting to see significant benefits from exposing Australia's emerging talent at a higher level through the CA XI," Roach said. "From year one to year two we have seen massive advances in the performance of the squad.
"In 2015-16, three batsmen passed 50, and last season we saw Ryan Gibson score a century and two half-centuries alone, with four other players also passing 50, two on multiple occasions. Gibson was the seventh-highest run scorer for the competition, while spinner Arjun Nair was the equal-fifth leading wicket-taker.
"From that first year, Hilton Cartwright has since gone on to make his Test debut and feature in an ODI squad, while Mitchell Swepson was a member of the Test squad which recently toured India. Twelve players who have represented the CA XI over the two years have since played Sheffield Shield cricket, while five players who represented the CA XI in the first year of the trial went on to play for their state side in the Matador BBQs Cup in the season just completed."