Sheffield Shield final to use bonus points, runners allowed for 2018-19 season
Queensland won the Sheffield Shield last season. @Getty

Cricket Australia (CA) has confirmed plans to revamp the Sheffield Shield format for the 2018-19 domestic season, with the major talking point being that the home team will not be guaranteed the title by drawing the final.

CA has decided to allot bonus points to decide the winners of the Sheffield Shield in the result of a draw, as one of five changes for the 2018-19 season.

This marks the first major shake-up in over three decades to Australian cricket’s oldest and most prestigious domestic competition. Since 1982-83, the team that topped the points table was required to draw the Sheffield Shield final at its home venue to win the title. Now, however, CA has taken steps to avoid dull and high-scoring draws and to attract viewership by trialling a bonus-point system to determine the winners.

As per the new format, the bonus point system will come into play if 720 overs are bowled. Teams will earn 0.01 bonus points for each runs scored in excess of 200 during the first 100 overs bowled in an innings, and 0.1 for each wicket.

The other changes implemented by CA include a heat policy for all matches, allowing for the suspension or cancellation of games when the temperatures sore; two new balls for Women’s National Cricket League games; the ruling that catches taken off balls hit on the full and lodging in fielders’ helmets will be legal; and runners allowed for batsmen injured after the fall of the ninth wicket.

“The previous rule allowing the home team to win the final in the case of a draw was not consistent with how this competition is generally played,” CA’s head of cricket operations Peter Roach said.

“In the past six seasons, we have had only two results in the five-day final – 33 per cent – compared to a 79 per cent win-rate in the four-day home and away matches. The rule will be trialled this year, and we believe it will encourage the teams involved to push for a result and improve the spectacle in the tournament’s showcase match.”

Unlike efforts to shake up the Shield in the past, this initiative from CA has found support from leading names in the Australian Cricketers’ Association. A nine-member playing conditions advisory panel chaired by Roach and including Australia international George Bailey, Victoria vice-captain Molly Strano, CA’s head of team performance Pat Howard and board members Mark Taylor and Michael Kasprowicz recommended the changes.