Not too long ago, cricket officials were patting themselves on the back, praising the compact schedule for the domestic T20 competition.

Package it up for the holiday period, make sure the international players were available and have it done and dusted inside a month was the idea. Quite a contrast, then, with the coming season, where the HRV Cup is spread over 12 weeks, running from the start of November to the final on January 20.

A key feature is the filling of the Friday night slot on Sky Sport, taking over from when domestic rugby winds up with the ITM Cup championship final on October 27.

The duration of the T20 cup is slightly misleading. The first eight games are played on eight successive Friday nights, all televised live. Auckland Cricket chief executive Mark Cameron is one who is rapt with the new arrangement.


"It is a big opportunity for domestic cricket to increase its profile, which has been lacking," he said. "To be on TV every Friday night as soon as the rugby season finishes is an opportunity we can't ignore."

Cameron acknowledged that having a more tightly-structured format has its strengths, but he is a strong supporter of the new arrangement, hoping it will boost the profile of the game in New Zealand.

New Zealand's international players will be absent for the majority of the competition, with their tour of South Africa running from December 21 to January 25.

Auckland will defend the T20 title they have won in the past two seasons, and have been in Tauranga this week as they sharpen their preparation for the Champions League in South Africa next month.

The Plunket Shield first-class programme, 10 home and away rounds but no final, is again in two stages, starting on October 27, breaking just before Christmas to give the T20 competition its head, and returning in late January, all wrapped up by February 23.

The Ford Trophy 50-over competition begins three days later and has the domestic field to itself through March, when England will be touring, the final pencilled in for March 30. The one flaw is that once again, as with the Super Rugby competition, it is not a complete round robin, instead comprising eight rounds, with the top four making preliminary finals.