In what's sure to be belated but popular news for Tasmanian Tigers fans following last summer's Grand Final, changes to the JLT Sheffield Shield and Women's National Cricket League have been announced, as part of multiple adjustments to playing conditions for Season 2018-19.
Cricket Australia's (CA) Playing Conditions Advisory Committee (PCAC) has made recommendations for the upcoming domestic summer.
On a one-year trial, if a JLT Sheffield Shield Final is drawn, a winner will be determined by the bonus points system used throughout the season.
If the match is drawn - provided 270 overs are played - this system will come into play, with the change designed to encourage both teams to push for a result, in the same positive manner they have played the season.
The system allows for 0.01 bonus points for each run scored above 200 in the first 100 overs of each innings, and 0.1 for each wicket within those 100 overs.
In the Women's National Cricket League, two new balls will now be used from the start of each innings.
This change sees the competition align with ICC playing conditions, and ensures Australia's elite female players can replicate the conditions they will face at international level.
Other changes for the upcoming domestic summer include:
• A heat policy being introduced for all CA competitions.
• Runners being permitted for an injured batter at the fall of the ninth wicket of an innings.
• Batters being able to be dismissed if a ball is hit and lodges in or under a fielder's helmet, on the full (in line with ICC playing conditions).
The PCAC is chaired by CA's Head of Cricket Operations Peter Roach, and featured Tasmania men's captain George Bailey, Victoria women's vice-captain Molly Strano (proxy for Victorian captain Meg Lanning), CA Board members Mark Taylor and Michael Kasprowicz, the ACA's Brendan Drew, CA's Pat Howard and Richard Patterson, and National Umpire Panel member Gerard Abood.
"It's important we continually look at the game, and assess options to get the best outcome for players, fans and Australian cricket in general," Roach said.
"We've had productive conversations with the players and we'd like to thank them for their input in finalising the playing conditions for this summer.
"In the case of the Sheffield Shield Final, we wished to ensure the match is a fitting finale to our marquee men's domestic competition.
"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.
"In the past six seasons, we've only had two results in the five-day final – 33 percent – compared to a 79 percent 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.
"Having two new balls in each innings for WNCL matches was a relatively simple decision.
"With this system now in place in Women's ODI cricket, it ensures our elite female players have the best chance of succeeding when they play at the highest level.
"Introducing a heat policy for domestic cricket was originally raised by the CA-ACA OHS committee some years ago.
"CA has thoroughly researched the subject and come up with a tool that incorporates all weather factors, as well as the physical attributes of players.
"While the tool does allow for the cancellation or suspension of play in the most extreme conditions, historic weather data shows us that this is unlikely for senior domestic cricket.
"The real benefit will be the guidance it provides on when additional or longer drinks breaks should be incorporated into a day's play.
"We have also introduced a different tool that caters for our underage domestic competitions, where participants often play many consecutive days at the height of summer.
"The main priority of the heat policy is to provide options to our match officials to maximise play in extreme heat, but at all times placing the health and safety of our participants as the highest priority."
The ACA's General Manager - Cricket Operations & Player Relations, Brendan Drew, said:
"The PCAC is a valuable forum for players and the ACA to have input into the playing conditions for Australian domestic cricket each year."
"The aim is to have Australia's domestic playing conditions consistent with the ICC's wherever possible.
"Using two new balls in each innings in the WNCL is a good example of adopting a playing condition so that the game is consistent with women's ODIs.
"The Sheffield Shield final is the pinnacle of the male domestic season, extending the bonus point system in to the final will assist in making the match the best contest possible.
"Player safety is of utmost importance, so the introduction of the heat policy is an essential development for Australian cricket."
KFC Men's Big Bash League and rebel Women's Big Bash League playing condition updates will be confirmed in the coming weeks.