South Africa will play the first Twenty20 international match in Australia as part of their three-Test tour in 2005-06. Cricket Australia unveiled its bulging schedule today, and it includes a domestic Twenty20 tournament in January and a West Indies Test for Hobart.
Australia face three Tests against West Indies at Brisbane, Hobart and Adelaide in November, before South Africa arrive for a series at Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. The MCG's Boxing Day Test will be the only international match at the ground as preparations for the Commonwealth Games are finalised. Three one-day internationals are set down for Melbourne's Telstra Dome, while the Adelaide Oval will host the first VB Series final. Sri Lanka and South Africa will contest the tri-series along with Australia.
"We are thrilled that we will have the opportunity to take Test cricket to all state capital cities next season," said James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive. "Scheduling issues provide complexities that don't always make this possible." Hobart last hosted a Test in 2001, when Australia played out a draw with New Zealand.
Brisbane will stage the Twenty20 international on January 9, and organisers are already preparing for a capacity crowd of 42,000. "The cricket record for the Gabba of 35,761 was set when Australia played South Africa in a one-day international in 2002 and we would love a new mark,'' said Graham Dixon, the Queensland Cricket chief executive.
Sutherland also announced a two-week domestic Twenty20 competition as Cricket Australia investigates the popularity of the format that was introduced into the country last season. The states will split into two pools of three, with the winners playing the final on January 21. "Our experiences show that the public have certainly enjoyed their first taste of 20-over cricket and want to see more," Sutherland said.
Australia's international season begins with the three Super Series one-day matches in Melbourne and the Super Test against the World XI at Sydney in October. Australia travel to New Zealand for three Chappell-Hadlee matches in December as part of a crammed summer.