Cricket Australia today announced that international cricket will return to the top end cities of Darwin and Cairns in 2004 after finalising arrangements for a two-Test series involving Sri Lanka.

The schedule will see the Sri Lankans arrive in Darwin on 15 June before taking part in a four-day tour match against a Northern Territory Chief Minister's XI at Marrara Oval from 24-27 June.

It will then meet Australia in the first 3 Test in Darwin, scheduled to take place from 1-5 July, before heading to Bundaberg Rum Stadium in Cairns for the second and final match of the series from 9-13 July.

Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said the confirmation of the 2004 Test matches highlighted the game's commitment to cricket in the country's far north.

"By extending Australian cricket's traditional season into the winter months, we have the opportunity to showcase the game to more people for longer periods of time," Mr Sutherland said.

"Cricket Australia is delighted that after the hard work that has gone into preparing both venues for cricket this year, they will both host another international fixture in 2004.

"Already we have seen the grip international cricket has had on Darwin and it is pleasing to think that with the confirmation of another series, fans in the top end will have yet another opportunity to take in the game," he said.

Under normal programming arrangements Cricket Australia would have hosted a Test series against Sri Lanka last season, however a commitment to have both sides in South Africa for the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup meant the series had to be moved to the mutually agreed month of July 2004.