WACA set to open Australian Test summer
Perth is in the frame to hold the opening Test of summer for the first time in more than 20 years as Cricket Australia moves towards dual day/night Tests for 2016-17, one each against South Africa and Pakistan.
Brisbane has hosted the first Test of the season every year since 1994, but ESPNcricinfo understands that the shunting of the Gabba match to the middle of the programme is a scenario CA has discussed with Queensland Cricket in order to allow for a day/night Test in Brisbane. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald has indicated an announcement to this effect may be imminent.
Adelaide was always likely to host a floodlit third Test against South Africa following the standout success of the inaugural day/night match played against New Zealand last summer, but CA were left with a conundrum about how to make room for a second pink ball fixture against Pakistan. The PCB have confirmed their agreement to play a day/night Test following approval of the move by their cricket committee.
The answer appears to be by swapping the Brisbane and Perth matches in the calendar. This allows the WACA Ground to host the opening South Africa match in a television friendly time slot for the eastern states before the Gabba greets the Pakistani touring side for the first match of their series ahead of the showpiece holiday fixtures over Christmas/New Year in Melbourne and Sydney. Brisbane has taken some pride in hosting the first Test, and is likely to do so again in 2017-18 during the next Ashes series.
Hobart appears likely to host the second South Africa Test, granting Tasmania an opportunity for a higher profile five-day match and draw better crowds than witnessed the most recent two matches against West Indies last summer and Sri Lanka in 2012.
South Africa had been slated to play four Tests against Australia next summer according to a bilateral agreement between the two countries, but the CA chief executive James Sutherland flagged some months ago that the board had decided against scheduling any more than six home Tests.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig