Australia finalise summer schedule
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