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Sri Lanka's packed Test schedule: three continents in four months

Sri Lanka's Test cricketers will be out of the country for almost three months between December and late February, with three back-to-back Test tours scheduled for the Southern Hemisphere summer. These away tours will also come close on the heels of England's full tour of the island in October and November, which will end on November 27, so long as the SSC Test runs its full duration. As a result, Sri Lanka will play nine Tests in the space of four months, in three different continents.

Although this is an arduous schedule, Sri Lanka are not foregoing practice matches. And while the team does have a window to send its Test specialists back home while the limited-overs leg of the New Zealand tour is ongoing, the team management has chosen instead to send those Test players early to Australia, so they can begin acclimatising to Australian conditions as early as possible.

"We would definitely be playing warm-up matches in New Zealand and Australia," said SLC CEO Ashley De Silva. Those matches are not confirmed yet, but are both likely to be three-dayers, with the one in Australia set to be a pink-ball encounter, ahead of the day-night Test in Brisbane. "Once the New Zealand Tests finish, our Test players will go straight to Australia." Provided the second Test in New Zealand ends on December 30, the Test specialists will have more than three weeks in Australia before the Tests begin there on January 24.

Then, once the Australia Tests conclude, there is again no time to return home before the South Africa Tests begin. The match in Canberra is scheduled to conclude on February 5, and the Test in Durban set to start on February 13, which means there are only eight days for the team to fly to South Africa and acclimatise there. Understandably, there is not likely to be a practice match ahead of the Test series there, but SLC has negotiated full use of practice facilities from Cricket South Africa, virtually from the moment they arrive. That Test series will conclude on February 25, before Sri Lanka play five ODIs and three T20Is, in addition to a single one-day warm-up match.

Counting England's hectic tour of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka play nine Tests, 13 ODIs and five T20s between October 10 and March 24, with two three-day warm-up games and one one-day practice game thrown in. It is possible that all-format players will be rested at various points through this season, particularly with the World Cup in June next year. Fast bowlers are likely to be rotated as well.