Dates announced for visits of SA and NZ June 4, 2007

England unveils 2008 summer schedule

Cricinfo staff

Graeme Smith: headed for England in 2008 © Getty Images
The England & Wales Cricket Board have announced their international schedule for the 2008 season, when New Zealand and South Africa will be the visitors. For the first time since 1931, a Test match will get underway on a Wednesday, when the third Test against South Africa begins at Edgbaston on July 30.

According to John Carr, England's director of cricket, the decision was made to allow an early finish to a busy season, enabling both England and South Africa to rest up before travelling to Pakistan for the 2008 Champions Trophy.

"The 2008 season will include a Wednesday start as well as four Thursday starts and two Friday starts," said Carr. "In a busy summer we feel that this sequence gives the players the maximum opportunity for rest and recuperation."

England's first opponents will be New Zealand, whom they face in a three-Test series, starting at Lord's on May 15. A Twenty20 match against the same opponents, on June 13, is the prelude to a five-match one-day series, before the arrival of South Africa for four Tests, starting at Lord's on July 10.

England will also play against South Africa in a one-off Twenty20 match at Chester-le-Street on August 20, followed by five more one-day games, the last of which takes place under floodlights in Cardiff on September 3.

John Perera, the England & Wales Cricket Board commercial director, added: "With the ever-increasing desire to shorten tours it means that the Wednesday start option had to be examined and we are grateful to npower and our broadcast partners - Sky Sports, BBC Radio and Five - for their approval. The ECB will be carefully monitoring the cricketing and commercial impact of a Wednesday start."