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Australia could host winter Tests in 2017

Brydon Coverdale

July 9, 2014

Comments: 17 | Text size: A | A

Suresh Raina edges Daniel Christian behind, Australia v India, CB Series, Brisbane, February 19, 2012
Australia and India are set to play each other every season until at least 2022-23 © AFP

Test cricket could return to far-northern Australia in 2017, with Bangladesh listed to visit for two Tests in August of that year, according to a draft of the new Future Tours Programme seen by ESPNcricinfo. If the draft FTP is signed off without any changes, Australia will also play longer Test campaigns against South Africa, with four Tests scheduled instead of three for each of the next three series.

The draft also has Australia listed to play India in either Tests or ODIs every season until the 2023 World Cup, while they would host at least one of India, England or South Africa every summer. That would prevent a repeat of the 2009-10 season, when the only tourists were West Indies and Pakistan, which led to a slump in public interest across the summer.

Other features of the draft include: seven Tests tentatively listed for the home summer of 2016-17; Australia and South Africa meeting for a Test or ODI series every season until 2021-22; and hosting duties for the World T20 in 2020-21. Notably, that World T20 is set to be followed immediately by four home Tests against South Africa, leaving little time for the players to get used to the change in formats.

Past FTP schedules have proven fluid, and series against Bangladesh have been among those postponed in the past. However, Australia were already due to visit Bangladesh for two Tests in October next year, which remains in the draft and should be their first Test series against Bangladesh since Jason Gillespie famously scored a double-century in Chittagong in 2006.

More notably, they have not hosted Bangladesh since 2003, and while they had been scheduled to play at home against Bangladesh in July 2018, that has been brought forward in the draft to August 2017. Darwin and Cairns were used for winter Test series in 2003 and 2004, but the venues were then shelved by Cricket Australia, with no Test cricket played there in the past decade.

However, if Australia were to host Tests in August, there would seem little choice but to consider such far-northern grounds again. The climate in southern Australia would be unsuitable and although Brisbane's weather might allow winter cricket - Australia A and India A played at Allan Border Field this week - the Gabba would be in use as an AFL venue at that time of year.

Seven Tests are listed for Australia's 2016-17 home summer, four against South Africa followed by three against Pakistan. However, the usual maximum in Australia is six Tests, and it is possible that in the final version of the FTP it will be trimmed back to six. In all, Australia are listed to play 100 Tests until the 2023 World Cup, including two in Zimbabwe in 2018, which were already in the FTP.

Also expected was the scheduling of Australia-India contests every season, due to the splitting of Test and one-day tours. The teams will meet for Tests and ODIs in Australia in 2014-15; ODIs in Australia in 2015-16; Tests in India in 2016-17; ODIs in India in 2017-18; Tests in Australia and ODIs in India in 2018-19; ODIs in Australia in 2019-20; T20s in Australia and Tests in India in 2020-21; ODIs in India in 2021-22; and ODIs in Australia in 2022-23.

In several cases, India's presence in Australia for ODIs should help to offset lower-drawing Test series, for example in 2015-16, when New Zealand and West Indies tour Australia for Tests, or in 2019-20, when Australia host Tests against Pakistan and West Indies. Either England or South Africa, also high-drawing teams in Australia, will tour if India do not.

Member nations have been told to sign their bilateral agreements by the next ICC Board meeting in October in order to firmly establish that FTP is both "binding and bankable".

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by flickspin on (July 10, 2014, 15:29 GMT)

australia could also add canberra to host tests making 7 test venues in southern australia, this way they could play a 4 test series and 3 test series in the same year, or a 5 test series and 2 test series in the same year

i dont know how much money a test earns cricket australia, but you can earn extra money by adding a 7th test venue

towns like young,cooma,wagga wagga, albury and wodonga would travel to watch the game

canberra hosting test would add to pitch diversity, the altitude might affect the ball

last year they played a 50/50 game there, with new lights which were restricted by airline rules

thier is a case to add a.c.t to the sheffield 4 day comp, the talent pool would be strong as players who can not make n.s.w or vic could play

towns that would service a.c.t with players would be young,canberra,wagga,cooma and albury wodonga

players from around that area who have played for australia are, m slater, m taylor, d christian, m bevan, n lyon, a macdonald and so on

Posted by flickspin on (July 10, 2014, 14:34 GMT)

with alice springs in winter the sun rises at 7:15am and sets at 6:00pm so you might have to start the game at 9:30-10:00am

i would like to set up a top first class competition with cairns,darwin, alice springs and broome

it would consist of 4 day first class comp and 20/20 comp, to be played with a home and away comp

it would be for players who cant get an english county cricket contract or a i.p.l contract

it would also keep players in form, say a batsmen/bowler gets injured on a overseas tour you can fly a inform player

players would love staying in the top end, in reality its a working holiday, you can go site seeing whilst playing cricket, which the player would enjoy

im sure you could find sponsors to fund the comp( tourism and airline companies), it might cost a couple of millions of dollars to pay players, and run the comp

i would make free admission for school kids, and set coaching clinics in remote and aboriginal communities, to help the game grow year after year

Posted by flickspin on (July 10, 2014, 14:00 GMT)

i would like to see 4 top end test venues

cairns, darwin, alice springs and broome, that way you can host a 4 test series or play zimbabwe and bangladesh in the same year

australia has great pitch diversity and adding top end venues would only add to this

cairns would be green, with bounce and tropical humidity which might make the ball swing and deviate off the green pitch

darwin would be dry because of the dry season but i imagine would still be green

alice springs would be dry and dusty being in the desert, and would spin , and would help australian cope better in the sub continent

broome would be dry, because its in a arid enviroment but would have a strong ocean breeze which might help the ball swing

being in the tropics you get 12 hours of sun every day of the year which makes it easy for player, you might have to start at 9:30-10:00 in alice springs

it would help australia get used to a great variety of pitches

i like the idea, this way we get cricket all year round

Posted by   on (July 10, 2014, 8:43 GMT)

townsville would be a better venue than either cairns or darwin

Posted by   on (July 9, 2014, 22:04 GMT)

Although the Gabba is unavailable in winter why not use Allan Border field? It's a high quality venue and although it has nowhere near the crowd capacity of the Gabba, it would hold more than Cairns/Darwin/Townsville with temporary seating. It would likely sell out for a Bangladesh game with a capacity of around 8000.

Posted by Jagger on (July 9, 2014, 15:54 GMT)

Just so long as the Boxing Day Test is safe from South Africa.

Posted by   on (July 9, 2014, 15:27 GMT)

Since when Pakistan were a smaller team? They are above both India and England in tests and that's without home advantage!

Posted by mensan on (July 9, 2014, 12:55 GMT)

It will be a failure of game and spectator interest to play India and England so often.often.

Posted by shaylin on (July 9, 2014, 10:35 GMT)

I think that FTP is a draft. Adding test and ODI series to the northern cities is a great idea. I have been to Cairns, Darwin and Alice Springs and the weather is fine with 0% chance of heavy rain in July and August. Alice Springs impressed me for a city that size. It has a casino, great accommodation options and thriving cultural scene. And not to mention Alice Springs, like Cairns, has a golf course consistently ranked in the top 100 so there are few attractions for all tastes. Should throw in Townsville's Tony Ireland Stadium into the mix and the cities can host test and odis series against the lower ranked teams every 2-3 years during July and August.

Posted by smudgeon on (July 9, 2014, 9:42 GMT)

I'd be interested to see other venues used, and I guess that would be a given during the Australian winter, seeing as AFL will be using the traditional cricket grounds. I like the idea of Alice Springs in the winter. Didn't Townsville or Cairns just host the U-19 world cup? Just on the seemingly never-ending series v India, I guess this is due to the large Indian ex-pat communities in Australia (as well as the income from playing India) means plenty of bums on seat. I don't mind the aggro so much, to be honest: I see it as a sign of a strong rivalry. Long as it doesn't turn into ugliness off the field, of course.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
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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