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Australia finalise summer schedule

Brydon Coverdale

July 19, 2012

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Ricky Ponting is ecstatic after his century, Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide, 1st day, January 24, 2012
If he plays all three Tests against South Africa, Ricky Ponting will be in line to break Steve Waugh's Australian record of 168 Test appearances at his home ground in Hobart © Getty Images
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South Africa will play a Gabba Test for the first time in 49 years and Sri Lanka will return to the MCG for their first Boxing Day Test since Muttiah Muralitharan was no-balled for throwing in 1995, as part of Australia's international schedule for 2012-13. The summer will also feature a Twenty20 against Sri Lanka at Sydney's Olympic Park on January 26, the first time in a decade Adelaide Oval has missed out on hosting the national team on Australia Day.

Australia will also play an international in Canberra for the first time, a one-dayer against West Indies, who will visit for a five-match ODI series in February. The one-day tri-series, which was reinstated last summer when India and Sri Lanka competed, has not surprisingly been ditched again, and both Sri Lanka and West Indies will play separate limited-overs series against Australia.

The international season will begin at the Gabba on November 9 with the first Test against South Africa, who will then move on to play Tests in Adelaide from November 22 to 26 and Perth from November 30 to December 4. South Africa's desire to play cricket at home around the Christmas-New Year period meant the only option was to play them earlier in the season.

The Gabba match will be South Africa's first Test in Brisbane since 1963, when Ian Meckiff was no-balled for throwing and Graeme Pollock made his Test debut. Australia have not lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988, when West Indies beat them, and facing Dale Steyn and his colleagues at the venue could provide them with their toughest challenge yet to keep that record alive.

Sri Lanka's three-Test series begins in Hobart on December 14, and it could be an extra special match for the Tasmanian fans. If Ricky Ponting plays all three Tests against South Africa he will be in line to break Steve Waugh's all-time record of 168 Test appearances for Australia and he will do so at his home ground, Bellerive Oval.

Sri Lanka will then play the MCG Boxing Day Test for only the second time, and while the first holds dark memories for the Sri Lankans after Muralitharan's no-balling, both teams have moved on since then. Ponting is the only man who played in that Test who is likely to be part of this year's Boxing Day encounter, and the Sri Lankans have enjoyed success at the MCG in the shorter formats over the past few years.

The Test summer finishes with the third Test against Sri Lanka, at the SCG from January 3 to 7, before the limited-overs part of the season kicks in. From January 11 to 23, Sri Lanka play five ODIs at the MCG, Adelaide Oval, Gabba, SCG and Bellerive, before two Twenty20 internationals in Sydney on January 26 and Melbourne on January 28.

It will be the first time since 2003 that Adelaide Oval has not hosted the national team on Australian Day, a decision that came about largely because the venue is being redeveloped and will have a reduced capacity this summer. Adelaide's Australia Day tradition is expected to resume when the ground's redevelopment is complete.

The final part of the international summer will consist of five ODIs and a T20 against West Indies from February 1 to 13. As part of Canberra's centenary celebrations, Manuka Oval will host an ODI on February 6, and the other one-dayers will be held at the WACA, SCG and MCG, before the Gabba finishes the international season with the one-off T20.

"Over the last 12 to 24 months we've seen some young and exciting talent injected into the Australian men's team and those changes are starting to reap the rewards of the hard work led by Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur," James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said. "The Australian men's team has a chance to test themselves early in the summer against a very strong South African side and the series is a great way to start the program.

"We're also fortunate to have Sri Lanka back again. They play a very entertaining and attacking style of cricket and as we saw last year have a passionate and vocal fan base around Australia. This year we also return to head-to-head Commonwealth Bank Series and a highlight will be the Australian men's team first international match in Canberra.

"The match is part of a big year of celebrations for Canberra and fans will be spoilt for choice with West Indies playing in the city twice and Sri Lanka once over the course of the summer. The Test and one-day series are again complemented by KFC T20 Internationals, including the Australia Day blockbuster at Sydney Olympic Park that I'm confident will draw a bumper crowd after last year's first international match at the venue."

Australia's schedule for 2012-13
Nov 2-4: Australia A v South Africans, Sydney

Nov 9-13: Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Gabba
Nov 22-26: Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Adelaide Oval
Nov 30-Dec 4: Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, WACA

Dec 6-8: CA Chairman's XI v Sri Lankans, Manuka Oval, Canberra

Dec 14-18: Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Bellerive Oval
Dec 26-30: Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, MCG
Jan 3-7: Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, SCG

Jan 11: Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, MCG
Jan 13: Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Adelaide Oval
Jan 18: Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Gabba
Jan 20: Australia v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, SCG
Jan 23: Australia v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Bellerive Oval

Jan 26: Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st T20I, Sydney Olympic Park
Jan 28: Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd T20I, MCG

TBC: Prime Minister's XI v West Indians, Manuka Oval, Canberra

Feb 1: Australia v West Indies, 1st ODI, WACA
Feb 3: Australia v West Indies, 2nd ODI, WACA
Feb 6: Australia v West Indies, 3rd ODI, Manuka Oval, Canberra
Feb 8: Australia v West Indies, 4th ODI, SCG
Feb 10: Australia v West Indies, 5th ODI, MCG

Feb 13: Austalia v West Indies, Only T20I, Gabba

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Sinhaya on (July 21, 2012, 19:34 GMT)

@Meety, yes NZ last beat you all in a test match before Hobart game was in 1993 in Christchurch and of course in Australia back in the early 80s. You mean sunny weather in Sydney will favor seamers? I know Melbourne wont help us except for the big Lankan fan base there which can make us feel homely. I know we can avoid umpiring howlers as DRS will be there in full scale. Our fast bowlers like Thisara Perera and Mathews will find England ideal for swing and not Australia. Our batting must excel and hope that scoreboard pressure will be the key to beating Australia in a test match if at all.

Posted by VB_Andy on (July 21, 2012, 17:20 GMT)

Australia - take a look at Smith / Amala - against the world best bowling attack today (according to the press) - this is the benchmark for a successful opening partnership (imovable rock) for the Ashes. Amala is pure class, we are miles off having anything like the quality of these guys in our top 3....

Posted by Meety on (July 21, 2012, 13:16 GMT)

@Sinhaya - that's what I meant when I said look at NZ. They went 25yrs without beating us here, & gave us a bloody nose in Hobart. That being said, the Ozzy pitch MOST like a NZ strip is Hobart. So I suppose SLs best chance would be at Sydney - although the weather there the last couple of years would suggest a pitch that will favour seamers.

Posted by tanstell87 on (July 21, 2012, 10:29 GMT)

agree with KURUWITA...if a tri series is played WI & SL will make the final...can understand CA organising 2 separate bilateral series..!

Posted by   on (July 21, 2012, 5:42 GMT)

Not surprised to c that Sri Lanka will not play any games at the WACA this summer. As a Sri Lankan cricket fan living in Perth, I was disgusted by the lack of support the Sri Lankan community in Perth gave to the Sri Lankan team in the 2 Commonwealth Bank Series matches @the WACA in February 2012 last summer!!

Posted by Sinhaya on (July 21, 2012, 5:32 GMT)

@Chris_P, remember when Australia beat us in the CB series in Perth, Brisbane in the 1st finals and Adelaide in the 3rd finals, the wins were narrow. Sri Lanka beat Australia convincingly in Sydney and Adelaide in the 2nd finals. We also posted a world record for the 9th wicket at the MCG if you recall. I have to say our mindset has been poor against Aussies in tests which is why upto now our test record against you all is poor. It is strange because we have beaten England 7 times in tests and South Africa 5 times which shows nothing can stop us from beating Australia too in tests. Our mindset was either too negative or under estimating you all and hope that wont happen this summer. Remember we were the last to beat South Africa in a test series when they traveled to SL in 2006 losing to us 2-0 and since then Saffers have been unbeaten in tests away!

Posted by redneck on (July 21, 2012, 4:34 GMT)

poor of cricket australia to take the australia day match off adelaide!!! renovations didnt stop the mcg keeping the boxing day test in the past or the scg with the new years test! so why does adelaide get shafted? as for the sri lankans thinking this is their time! firstly ODI form isnt relevant to tests, secondly your not england you dont have a pace attack anywhere near what you need to win. be happy if you manage a draw in any of the 3 matches!!! south africa at both the gabba and waca, on early season wickets! should make for a good contest!

Posted by   on (July 21, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

Any nation would love to have the current west indies odi team in their country. Look at the stars in the team. After the t20 world cup which they will probably do well, everyone will want to see them. Its all about money making. The aussies are smart.

Posted by Sinhaya on (July 21, 2012, 4:11 GMT)

@Chris_P, yes we under estimated Aussies last year in our backyard at our own peril. Yes I agree good bowlers are a must to succeed in Australia. Keep an eye on Thisara Perera. Dont under estimate us. We have done well in ODIs in your backyard. We beat Aussies 4 times in this year's CB series. We beat you all 2-1 in the ODI series in 2010. Also, we were the first to beat you all in a T20 game in your own soil. So we are good in the shorter formats. Also, our batting is good in tests meaning it wont be that easy to walkover us. NZ surprised you all last year in Hobart, so dont write us off.

Posted by Sinhaya on (July 21, 2012, 4:07 GMT)

@Meety, well NZ beat Aussies in Hobart dispelling all doubts. So that augurs well for Sri Lanka. But again, NZ bowling was somewhat better than us due to Bracewell especially. But dont forget the last test we played in Australia in 20007 in Hobart we were unlucky due to Sanga getting a dreaded umpiring decision as if not we may have won it. I think it could be 2-1 Australia.

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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