South Africa to host rare four-Test series

South Africa will play their first four-Test series in six years when they host England in 2015-16

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Graham Onions and Graeme Swann embrace after seeing out 17 balls to save England the Test, England v South Africa, 3rd Test, Cape Town, January 7, 2010

England drew nail-biting Tests in Centurion and Cape Town on their last tour of South Africa  •  Getty Images

South Africa will play their first four-Test series in six years when they host England in 2015-16. The tour is scheduled to include four Tests, five ODIs and two T20s and will run from December 11 to February 21.
England will play two three-day warm-up games before kicking off with the Boxing Day Test, which returns to Durban after being moved to Port Elizabeth for this season against West Indies. St George's Park does not get a Test at all in the 2015-16 period, with Newlands retaining the New Year's Test, Johannesburg's Wanderers back on the Test calendar after missing out this summer, and SuperSport Park in Centurion the other Test hosts.
The five ODIs take cricket to Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth as well as Centurion, Johannesburg and Cape Town, with the latter two cities also staging the T20s.
The Test venues are exactly the same as they were the last time England where in South Africa in 2009-10. That series, memorable for England hanging on nine wickets down in Centurion and Cape Town, was drawn 1-1 and was also the last time South Africa last played in a four-Test series.
Since then, the teams have only met in one other Test rubber, in 2012, when South Africa took the Test mace off England. Their last Test series defeat to England came at home in 2004-05.
"England are the best supported team away from home and once more we look forward to welcoming their legion of fans together with their players and team management. The well-known 'Barmy Army' always adds charm to the on-field competition," Haroon Lorgat, CSA CEO said. "The tour has already drawn huge interest and promises to be the highlight of our summer with four Test matches being played."
While South Africa are currently clear at the top of the Test rankings, despite briefly being overtaken by Australia, England are down in fourth after losing 5-0 in Australia and 1-0 at home to Sri Lanka before beating India. They have a concentrated period of one-day cricket before the World Cup but will then play 17 Tests in nine months up to the end of the South Africa tour.
England's managing director, Paul Downton, said: "Any tour of South Africa is special and as the Proteas currently set the benchmark in Test and ODI cricket it will be a real challenge which our emerging team will relish. We can be assured of fantastic support in South Africa from the thousands of loyal supporters who always follow us around the country - particularly at the Boxing Day Test in Durban and the New Year Test at Newlands in Cape Town."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent