CSA alter Sri Lanka visit to create Ram Slam space
Cricket South Africa has altered the schedule for Sri Lanka's 2016-17 tour to ensure that their international players will be able to appear in the Ram Slam T20 competition during early December.
The tour will still include three Tests, five ODIs and three T20s, but the most significant change to the itinerary is that the Johannesburg Test will now be held in mid-January rather than mid-December.
The Wanderers had originally been due to host the opening Test of the series from December 15-19 but will now stage the third match from January 12-16, meaning the series will begin in Port Elizabeth on Boxing Day before the traditional New Year Test in Cape Town.
This season the Ram Slam was held from November 1 to December 12 which coincided with the national side being in India and then the start of England's visit. It meant that star names such as AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada did not make a single appearance in the tournament.
There may still be limited time for players who are part of South Africa's Test side to appear in the Ram Slam as South Africa tour Australia for a four-Test series during November, but the change in the schedule has now freed up much of December for the T20 competition.
CSA said that research had suggested moving the Johannesburg Test would help boost attendances - often a concern for Tests in South Africa - but also pinpointed the Ram Slam as a key reason for the change and said future international itineraries would take the T20 event into consideration.
Haroon Lorgat, the CSA chief executive, said: "The changes resulted from market research indicating that a Test match would work a lot better in Johannesburg during January plus our desire to keep the first half of December free for the Ram Slam T20 Challenge so that all our Proteas can participate in the tournament. In future years we will design our schedules accordingly."
South Africa face a busy period when they resume international cricket following a gap after the World T20. They begin with a triangular series in West Indies in June, follow that with winter Test matches against New Zealand in August before hosting Australia for a one-day series from the end of September.
Then they head to Australia before returning for the rest of the home season against Sri Lanka which is then followed by a tour of New Zealand in February 2017.
There will be particular attention on what de Villiers, who is now South Africa's permanent Test captain, decides to do having cited his workload concerns but also made clear his desire to play in various T20 leagues with the IPL and CPL already in his calendar.