Cricket world champions up against NRL grand final day
The opening of Cricket Australia's international season risks being completely overshadowed by the NRL, with the first match scheduled for Sydney on grand final day.
Cricket Australia confirmed their international fixtures for 2023-24 on Sunday night, with the opening match a women's Twenty20 between Australia and West Indies at North Sydney Oval on October 1.
That game will finish only hours before the NRL grand final, asking fans to choose which event to attend and viewers to switch off rugby league's grand final lead-up games.
CA take the view that in a cluttered schedule a Sunday start in Sydney is the right way to go, hopeful they can benefit from Channel Seven promoting the match during the AFL grand final the previous day.
They are also adamant October 1 should be the start of the cricket season, that scheduling clashes with other sports are inevitable and that their world champion women's team can win out.
But privately there are concerns from some over the significant challenges the sport will face promoting the T20 match in Sydney, with a second game to be played the day after the grand final.
Australia vice-captain Alyssa Healy was hopeful the situation would not impact crowds, while acknowledging there could be some hurdles to overcome in drawing fans.
"It could be (a problem), maybe we might get washed out a little bit in that," Healy told AAP.
"But in saying that, it's the start of the cricket summer. So hopefully that is spoken about that week.
"Yes, the headlines will be dominated by AFL and NRL, but they are anyway.
"Come and watch some world-class athletes do their thing at North Sydney if the NRL is not your thing.
"I don't think we need to compete against the NRL grand final, we can work around it."
It is not the first time concerns have been raised around the scheduling of women's fixtures.
Players were unhappy when they were switched to play on January 26 last summer, with Indigenous woman Ashleigh Gardner vocalising her opposition to the decision.
Another match in the same series, against Pakistan at North Sydney Oval, clashed with the Sydney Smash in the BBL.
There is some good news for the women in the upcomng fixture, however.
After three T20s and three ODIs against West Indies early in the summer, they host a multi-format series against South Africa in January and February.
Included is a day-night one-day international at a major venue, Adelaide Oval, on February 3, and a Test on the pacy WACA wicket from February 15.
The men's summer will begin with the first Test against Pakistan in Perth from December 14, before the teams meet in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and the New Year's Test at the SCG.
As confirmed last week, Adelaide will host a red-ball Test against West Indies from January 17, before a day-night Test at the Gabba from January 25.
It means all Tests will fall in the holiday period.
White-ball players will be available for the entire men's BBL, before they enter camp for three ODIs and three T20s against West Indies between February 2 and 13.