Cricketers brace for busiest summer

·3-min read

Two years of COVID postponements and a Twenty20 World Cup have handed Australia's cricketers the busiest summer in the country's history.

Cricket Australia confirmed a cluttered schedule on Monday, with a whopping 27 men's fixtures beginning with the first Top End-tour since 2008 in August and September.

West Indies and South Africa will visit for Test series, while the former will join New Zealand and Zimbabwe in playing catch-up white-ball series before the home T20 World Cup that was originally slated for 2020.

Early-season cricket will be played in Townsville and Cairns against Zimbabwe and New Zealand respectively, before Australia leave for a three-match Twenty20 series in India.

West Indies and England then play white-ball series either side of the October-November Twenty20 World Cup, with the English to be coached by Australia's former women's mentor Matthew Mott.

Notably, the Test summer begins in Perth on November 30 against West Indies, before a pink-ball Test in Adelaide from December 8.

Brisbane hosts the first Test against South Africa on December 17, before Melbourne and Sydney hold the traditional Boxing Day and New Years' Tests.

It marks a shift away from the Gabba hosting the first Test of the summer.

Cricket Australia head of operations and scheduling Peter Roach highlighted a desire to beam the first two Tests into the east coast in prime-time.

"We also know the Gabba's going to be offline for a couple of years," he said.

"Taking the chance to look at some different opportunities when we've got the chance to us makes a bit of sense.

'We've got a very good record in Perth too. Moving away from fortress Gabba is not something that scares us."

The figure of 27 matches for the men does not include any T20 World Cup warm-up fixtures, or finals games if the defending champions qualify.

It easily tops the previous record of 24 matches in 2014-15, which also included a home one-day World Cup.

It also comes as part of an extremely busy 12 months for the team, with a four-Test series in India in February and March, an away Ashes next winter, a tour of South Africa and a one-day World Cup in October and November.

The one sticking point of Australia's home summer remains a three-match one-day series against South Africa between January 12 and 17, at a time CA hoped to have all white-ball stars playing Big Bash.

South Africa have also requested to move the series, but no other window can be found and all ICC ODI Super League fixtures must be completed before April.

Instead, CA have scheduled the games to start earlier to allow BBL matches to follow at night.

"Our strong intention is to play them as scheduled and we're working through that with South Africa," Roach said.

"This is a really busy season of cricket and finding a spot will be difficult, but we're engaged in that discussion with South Africa and we hope to finalise that in the coming weeks."

Meanwhile, Australia's women play three ODIs and T20s against Pakistan in January, with no Test on the agenda.

They will also tour India for five T20s in December, ahead of the short-form World Cup in South Africa in February.

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