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Big Bash gets bigger

Twenty20 cricket has made further inroads into the Australian domestic calendar with an expanded interstate competition in 2007-08.

The KFC Big Bash will have an extra round of matches before the final, meaning each state will play every other state before the January 13 final.

When the competition was introduced in 2005-06, state teams played three matches each. This was increased to four each in 2006-07, and is increased again to five each next season - a total of 16 games in two weeks, including the final.

The competition will kick off on New Year's Eve with matches in Perth and the new Riverway Stadium in Thuringowa, Townsville.

Selected games will be televised on Fox Sports.

Twenty20's march into public favour appears to be at the expense of the 38-year-old domestic 50-over competition, which is so far without a brand name for next season.

Ford Ranger had the naming rights in 2006-07, but has pulled the pin after just one season.

The competition, which began in 1969-70 as the Australasian V and G Knockout Cup (with New Zealand included), has been sponsored successively by Coca-Cola, Gillette, McDonald's, FAI Insurance, Mercantile Mutual (later ING) and Ford Ranger.

A Cricket Australia spokesman said an announcement on a new sponsor was expected soon.

The Pura Cup and one-day competitions will have extra bite next season as Test and players will be available to play for their state sides during a three-week break in the international program in November and December.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting, for example, has played just four Pura Cup games and eight 50-over games for Tasmania in the past six seasons, but has the chance to play three games for the Tigers in that period.

"I'm sure all players and fans will enjoy this window in our summer where the spotlight will be squarely on our national competitions," said Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland.

Australia plays two home Tests against Sri Lanka in November and four against India in December-January.

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source - smh.com.au

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