Plunket Shield Format in 2022 – First Class Cricket in New Zealand

As part of my journey around the world to look at cricket competitions it’s time to head to New Zealand and assess the Plunket Shield.

What is the Plunket Shield?

The Plunket Shield is New Zealand’s premier first class cricket tournament. It is also one of the oldest sporting competitions in the country and it is traditionally played right across the domestic summer.

The teams taking part are battling for the Shield itself and it’s a trophy that has been contested for over 100 years.

The Plunket Shield Format and Rules

The Plunket Shield is based on the regular laws of first class cricket. Each team gets two innings with the objective to score more runs while taking all twenty of the opposition wickets.

As with all first class games, four results are possible. Both teams can win while there is additional capacity for a draw or a tie.

The six teams involved in the competition will play each other twice on a double round robin basis. There is no final, so the team at the top of the table when that sequence ends will win the Plunket Shield.

Plunket Shield

How Many Overs are in the Plunket Shield?

This is first class cricket so there are no limits in terms of how many overs each innings will take. Teams can continue to bat for as long as they want, assuming they have wickets in hand.

There is, however, an important note regarding bonus points after 110 overs which will be outlined in the next section.

Points System

Any team winning a match will receive 12 points. The losing team will not receive any points and, unlike many first class competitions, there are no points awarded for a draw. A tied game will see both sides receive six points. If a game is abandoned without a ball being bowled, the two sides will each be awarded three points.

There is, however, a bonus points system and this could potentially make the difference between winning and losing the Plunket Shield. Points are awarded in the first innings only and there is a cut off at 110 overs.

Batting teams reaching 200 runs by the end of 110 overs will receive one bonus point. A second point is awarded at 250 runs, a third at 300 and a fourth at 350.

For bowling sides, the first bonus point is awarded when they take three wickets within that 110 over limit. A second is achieved when the fifth wicket falls, the third at seven wickets and the fourth at nine.

Plunket Shield Teams

Six teams take part in the Plunket Shield and, in alphabetical order, these are:

  • Auckland
  • Canterbury
  • Central Districts
  • Northern Districts
  • Otago
  • Wellington

Using statistics up to and including the end of the 2020/21 season, Auckland are the most successful team with 23 trophies. They are followed by Wellngton with 21 and Canterbury with 19. Completing the picture are Otago with 13, Central Districts with 11 and Northern Districts with eight.

Plunket Shield teams

Brief History of the Plunket Shield

The very first edition of the Plunket Shield was held in New Zealand’s 1906/07 season. The trophy itself was named after the 5th Baron Plunkett who was the Governor General of New Zealand at the time.

In that inaugural 1906/07 campaign, just four teams were involved – Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. The competition was expanded in 1950 when Central Districts joined up while Northern Districts came along six years later.

The competition has largely been unchanged over the years but there had previously been a final game. In the current era, however, the league leaders at the end of each season are awarded the Plunket Shield.

As it has always been, the Plunket Shield is held across the New Zealand cricket season between the second half of spring in October and the end of summer in March.