The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) today released the official programs for the Pura Cup, ING Cup and tour matches for season 2002-03.
The domestic schedule sees cricket played at Sydney's Telstra Stadium for the first time, when the venue hosts the last match of the ING Cup competition between the New South Wales Blues and the Southern Redbacks on 16 February.
The ING Cup begins at North Sydney Oval on 13 October, when reigning champions the New South Wales Blues play the Queensland Bulls in a rematch of last season's competition final, which the Blues won by 19 runs.
The Pura Cup starts with the Southern Redbacks hosting the Victorian Bushrangers at the Adelaide Oval from Tuesday 15 October. The opening round of the four-day first-class competition also sees the Queensland Bulls begin their pursuit of a fourth consecutive Pura Cup title when they take on the Blues at home from 16 October.
The program also features an Australia Day ING Cup clash in regional Victoria, when the Bushrangers host the Queensland Bulls in Ballarat on 26 January.
Other matches played away from usual venues include the Tasmanian Tigers' ING Cup fixtures in Launceston and Devonport and the New South Wales Blues' limited-overs matches at Drummoyne Oval and in the north coast town of Coffs Harbour. The Blues also play in Newcastle for the first time since 1997, when they take on the Western Warriors in the Pura Cup fixture beginning on 23 January.
The Warriors play their first match at the redeveloped WACA Ground on 6 November, taking on the Southern Redbacks in an ING Cup fixture.
ACB Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said domestic cricket continues to play an important role for the future of the Australian game.
"The Pura Cup and ING Cup exhibit an extremely high standard of competition and play vital roles as nurseries for Australian Test and one-day international cricket," Mr Sutherland said.
"And with this season's schedule seeing matches staged at a number of non-traditional venues, state cricket will be taken to a wider audience around the country."
The Nine Network will televise 13 ING Cup matches throughout the season, including the final on Sunday 23 February.
The ACB is exploring alternatives for coverage of other domestic cricket matches following the closure of pay television operator C7 earlier this year.
"In response to consumers' desire to follow their state teams, we are working hard to see that domestic cricket continues to receive national exposure," Mr Sutherland said.
Tour matches, Australia A and other games
The traditional Chairman's XI fixture, at Lilac Hill on 22 October, commences England's Australian tour.
Western Australia plays England in a two-day match (24-25 October) and a three-day game (28-30 October) in Perth before Queensland hosts the tourists for a three-day fixture in Brisbane (2-4 November) ahead of the First Orange Test on 7 November.
New South Wales hosts England in a one-day match in Sydney on 6 December, while a Prime Minister's XI will be selected to play the tourists on 10 December in Canberra.
England's last tour match is against a Bradman XI on 8 January in Bowral.
The ATSIC Chairman's XI versus Prime Minister's XI match, held in Canberra for the past two years, will this season be played as a day/night fixture at the Adelaide Oval on 31 January.
Sri Lanka's first match on Australian soil takes place in Brisbane against Australia A. This is ahead of the country's first VB Series match on 17 December in the Queensland capital.
Australia A plays five matches this year, including a three-day game against England in Hobart (15-17 November). All Australia A matches will be televised live by the Nine Network.
The international and domestic programs for women's cricket will be released in due course.