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Ashes opener locked in for Gabba, but no India guarantee

Australia have a formidable record at the Gabba Getty Images

The Gabba has been locked in for the opening Test of the 2021-22 Ashes but there has been no similar guarantee made for next year's visit by India who did not play at Australia's stronghold on their tour last season.

Australia's Test team are unbeaten in Brisbane in 30 years and it has traditionally been the starting point for the Test summer, but last season the first match against India was played in Adelaide much to the frustration of the players and management.

Instead, Australia played Sri Lanka in a day-night Test in late January which struggled to attract fans and was over well inside three days. Last month it was confirmed that the ground would regain the opening Test for the 2019-20 season against Pakistan with the interests of the Australia players at the forefront but, at the time, there was no confirmation of future years.

The Ashes commitment to the Gabba comes on the back of Queensland Cricket getting state funding for an AUS$35 million upgrade of facilities at the ground and while it is unusual for a fixture confirmation so far ahead of time it was a simpler decision with the traditional five Ashes Tests.

India's next tour in 2020-21 will again consist of four Tests which means one of the big five venues will miss out hosting them. Afghanistan are the other Test visitors that season for their maiden match against Australia.

Outside of Ashes Tests crowd numbers have been a challenge for the Gabba putting its standing as one of the premier venues under threat and it was accepted that significant investment was needed to improve facilities for players and spectators. The former has already been invested in, with the fan experience now key to the ground's future after this funding boost.

The aim is to have the improvements completed in time for the Men's T20 World Cup in late 2020 when Brisbane hosts four matches during that tournament before Afghanistan's brief visit ahead of India's tour. The following season then includes the next Ashes series on Australian soil.

Kevin Roberts, the Cricket Australia CEO, said: "Nothing excites Australian cricket fans like an Ashes series on home soil and the upgrades to the Gabba will ensure that in hosting the first Test of the Ashes series in 2021-22, fans in Queensland will get the first opportunity to enjoy world-class cricket while experiencing the upgraded facilities."

The 2019-2020 men's season includes a two-Test series against Pakistan and three against New Zealand.