Double-headers to feature

New Zealand's premier male and female players will share the twenty20 stage with a series of double-headers this summer.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) released the 2018-19 domestic programme yesterday, and for the first time the men's and women's tournaments will run side-by-side.

The Super Smash tournaments will feature 16 double-headers and seven of the combined match days will be televised live.

NZC domestic cricket general manager Andrew Rogers said aligning the two competitions was an important step and a demonstration of NZC's commitment to growing the women's game.

''We're hoping the new format will be a hit with the public and really whet the appetite for India's international tour in January and February, which will also feature double-headers for our Black Caps and White Ferns,'' Rogers said.

The other features of the schedule are that the Plunket Shield has been trimmed from 10 to eight rounds, and the one-day competition has been given its own window in October and November, and has been increased from eight to 10 rounds.

The men's one-day finals format has been cut back, with just the top three teams making it through to the playoffs. The final is inked in for November 28, while the twenty20 final is scheduled for February 17.

The women's one-day final is on March 9 and the twenty20 final on January 20.

The Otago Volts get their summer under way with a first-class game against Northern Districts on October 10 - the best part of two weeks earlier than last season.

The following week the team will travel to Wellington for its round two match against the Firebirds.

Its one day campaign gets under way in Nelson against Central Districts on October 24.

Volts fans will have to wait until round four of the one-day tournament to see their team play at home, when it hosts Central Districts in Dunedin, on November 4.

It is the first of three consecutive games at the venue.

Otago will also play two games at a neutral venue in Lincoln, and its only other one-day home game is in Invercargill, in the final round.

Otago will open its twenty20 campaign at the University of Otago Oval in a televised game against Canterbury two days before Christmas.

There are longer gaps between twenty20 matches this season, to allow fans some respite, in the hope of bringing back the crowds.

The one-day tournament has gone the other way. It has been condensed into a five-week period.

Alexandra's Molyneux Park will host three games - a Plunket Shield match between Otago and Central Districts beginning on December 6 and a twenty20 double-header on December 30.

The Sparks' campaign gets under way with five twenty20 matches in Lincoln in late October.

The women's one-day tournament starts in mid November, when the Sparks travel to Wellington to play the Blaze in back-to-back matches.

Their first home games are against Canterbury, in Oamaru, from December 1-2. The team hosts Auckland the following week in Dunedin before the competition takes a break so the twenty20 can resume.

 

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