April 16, 2003

Perth to stage season opener, Sydney to host two Tests in season 2003-04

Perth will host the season opener, Sydney will stage two Tests and international cricket will be played in October for the first time, the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) announced today with the release of the 2003-04 international cricket program.

The fixture, which reverts back to the preferred blocked Test and one-day international format, sees Zimbabwe arrive on Australian shores in October for the two-match 3 Test Series and India compete in December and January's four-match 3 Test Series.

The VB Series between Australia, India and Zimbabwe begins on 9 January 2004 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and finishes with the third final, if needed, at the Gabba in Brisbane on 10 February 2004.

No international cricket will be played in Australia in November, with Australia expected to take part in a tri-angular one-day international series in India.

ACB Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said the program had much to offer Australian cricket fans.

"Next season's program will provide plenty of exciting international cricket for Australian fans and international visitors keen to see top-class action at Australia's excellent venues," Mr Sutherland said.

"Matches in Sydney are frequently sold out, but this year the people of New South Wales will have more opportunity to watch international cricket with two Tests and three one-day internationals scheduled for the Sydney Cricket Ground.

"The fixture sees a move back to the blocked format, which could not be implemented last year due to a February start for the 2003 World Cup.

"Our market research tells us that fans prefer the blocked program, and it certainly makes sense from a cricket operations perspective. It also allows players at the domestic and international level to focus on one form of the game at a time and gives selectors a clearer picture of players' performances in each form of the game."

Mr Sutherland added that, as part of the International Cricket Council 10-year program, it is increasingly important to reciprocate tours by travelling to other countries.

"Nine out of 10 Test nations stage their cricket seasons at the same time of year, so there is an on-going need to share the October to March period," he said.

"Our plan to tour India in November is an example of implementing the reciprocal arrangements with India and a consequence of sharing the same cricket season."

The Australia A program has been reduced to one three-day match, against India in Hobart in December, and two limited-over games against Zimbabwe in Perth and Adelaide in January.

A date for the Allan Border Medal has not been confirmed at this stage.

The Australian domestic season schedule, including the Pura Cup, ING Cup and other tour matches is expected to be released within the next two weeks. The Australian women's cricket schedule is expected to be confirmed within a month.

Season program (at 16 April 2003)

3 Test Series - Australia v Zimbabwe
Oct 09 - 13   First 3 Test      Australia v Zimbabwe       Perth
Oct 17 - 21   Second 3 Test     Australia v Zimbabwe       Sydney

3 Test Series - Australia v India Dec 04 - 08 First 3 Test Australia v India Brisbane Dec 12 - 16 Second 3 Test Australia v India Adelaide Dec 26 - 30 Third 3 Test Australia v India Melbourne Jan 02 - 06 Fourth 3 Test Australia v India Sydney

VB Series - Australia, Zimbabwe, India Jan 09 First ODI Australia v India (D/N) Melbourne Jan 11 Second ODI Australia v Zimbabwe (D/N) Sydney Jan 14 Third ODI India v Zimbabwe Hobart Jan 16 Fourth ODI Australia v Zimbabwe Hobart Jan 18 Fifth ODI Australia v India (D/N) Brisbane Jan 20 Sixth ODI India v Zimbabwe (D/N) Brisbane Jan 22 Seventh ODI Australia v India (D/N) Sydney Jan 24 Eighth ODI India v Zimbabwe (D/N) Adelaide Jan 26 Ninth ODI Australia v Zimbabwe (D/N) Adelaide Jan 29 Tenth ODI Australia v Zimbabwe (D/N) Melbourne Feb 01 Eleventh ODI Australia v India Perth Feb 03 Twelfth ODI India v Zimbabwe (D/N) Perth Feb 06 First Final (D/N) Melbourne Feb 08 Second Final (D/N) Sydney Feb 10 Third Final (D/N) if required Brisbane

Other matches Oct 01 Zimbabwe v Chairman's XI Perth Oct 03 - 05 Zimbabwe v Western Australia Perth Nov 27 - 29 India v Victoria Melbourne Dec 01 India v PM's XI Canberra Dec 19 - 21 India v Australia A Hobart Jan 01 Zimbabwe v Australia A Perth Jan 04 Zimbabwe v Western Australia (D/N) Perth Jan 07 Zimbabwe v Australia A (D/N) Adelaide

NOTE: The ACB reserves the right, in its absolute discretion, to change or amend the official 2003-04 program without notice.