Peter Handscomb in action for the Melbourne Stars.
Peter Handscomb in action for the Melbourne Stars.

Stars assured they’ll be home for Christmas

MELBOURNE Stars officials promised to get their players home in time for Christmas after the club was scheduled to play its first ever Christmas Eve game this season.

The bigger-than-ever Big Bash fixture for the 2018/19 season contained several firsts headlined by a December 24 double-header starting with the Stars and Hurricanes in Hobart in the afternoon followed by a Sydney derby.

Christmas Day games remain the hope of BBL bosses but player feedback has not been positive.

They have already voiced concerns for several seasons about travelling on Christmas night for Boxing Day clashes interstate, a fate endured by the Stars for the past three seasons.

Trading that for a flight home on Christmas Eve made the game in Hobart an easy sell to his players for Stars chief executive Clint Cooper who conceded cramming the expanded fixture in to a tight time frame had presented issues for Cricket Australia.

The 58 game schedule is so tight there will be a Big Bash clash with a Test match for the first time too, which could present broadcast issues.

The Stars play the Brisbane Heat at 7:40pm on January 27, day four of the day/night Test between Australia and Sri Lanka at the Gabba.

Earlier this year outgoing Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland raised the prospect of the clash at the latter end of the Test, with the possibility the game could be over.

But the past two day night/night Tests in Australia - in Adelaide last year and Brisbane in 2016 - both went for the full five days.

It's now likely TV viewers could have to choose between the two and broadcasters, Foxtel and Channel 7, could be forced to show the matches on two channels at the same time.

"Fortunately or unfortunately this year the schedule is quite compact … I don't envy the guys trying to pull this together," Cooper told the Herald Sun.

"We were appreciative of all the challenges involved in the fixturing and if you change one thing it has a massive domino effect. So on the whole, barring that little anomaly (of the Test clash), we are pretty happy with the spread of the draw.

"It's up to 14 games, a lot more travel, we have closed gaps where we previously had nine and 10 day gaps between games. You have to balance all that.

"It's not perfect, but this is the reality of cricket in Australia in the summer and we have to make it work."

The Perth Scorchers are also hosting the Sydney Thunder on the opening day of the Test, but the 7:20pm start in Perth is 9:20 on the east coast, and play in the Test is scheduled to finish at 9pm.


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