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Australia's domestic season start delayed by Covid-19 challenges

Changes to the Marsh Cup, Sheffield Shield, and WNCL fixtures due to state lockdowns and border closures

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
New South Wales' Marsh Cup title defence will be delayed  •  Getty Images

New South Wales' Marsh Cup title defence will be delayed  •  Getty Images

Cricket Australia has confirmed changes to the domestic schedule with this weekend's opening round to the 50-over Marsh Cup competition delayed as Covid-19 lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria and border closures between states continue to cause scheduling headaches.
The Marsh Cup was set to begin on Saturday with Victoria hosting South Australia in Melbourne before defending champions New South Wales traveled to play Western Australia on Sunday in Perth. But both matches have been postponed due to lockdowns and border restrictions on people travelling to and from both states.
The men's domestic season will now begin on September 22 with South Australia hosting Western Australia in a Marsh Cup game at Karen Rolton Oval in Adelaide. The two sides were due to open their Sheffield Shield season on September 28 but that game has been moved forward to start on September 24 at the same venue.
As per the original schedule, Queensland will host Tasmania in the opening Sheffield Shield round on September 28 at Ian Healy Oval in Brisbane before playing their opening Marsh Cup fixture at the same venue on October 3.
Those four states are currently open to each other and can play fixtures without restrictions. Victoria and New South Wales are still working with CA to confirm how their seasons will begin with players, coaches, and umpires in each state currently unable to travel interstate without serving a 14-day quarantine.
CA also confirmed that the women's domestic schedule has been changed. The WNCL 50-over competition will be now be played entirely after the WBBL has been completed. There were seven matches scheduled to be played prior to the WBBL beginning on October 14, but all matches are now scheduled to be played after December 16.
There are likely to be changes to the WBBL fixtures as well although the tournament will still be played between October and December.
However, the first nine games that were scheduled to be played in Sydney will need to be shifted with Queensland looming as the most logical host in the initial phase of the tournament, although the players and teams have expressed their preference not to play in a hub as they did last year.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo