Australia looking to South Africa, Windies

Published: Sunday, January 16, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:Australia will seek to host the West Indies and South Africa for Test series during the 2005-2006 season, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland confirmed here.

Sutherland said Cricket Australia (CA) -- the sport's governing body here -- wanted to play three Tests each against the two touring nations.

He said the dates were still a long way from being finalised but CA hoped to play the West Indies in three Tests -- down from the usual five in Australia -- at the start of the southern hemisphere summer in December.

But the total number of Tests would then be increased to six overall by playing a further three against South Africa after Christmas.

"All we can really say at this stage is we are working towards a six-Test summer next (season), but in terms of how that falls and where the matches fall, it's way too early to be confirming that," Sutherland said on Sunday.

Hobart's Bellerive Oval, which has not hosted a Test since Australia and New Zealand played a rain-affected draw in 2001-02, would most likely host one of the West Indies Tests, Sutherland said.

The West Indies' last five Test tours to Australia have been five-match series, and while Sutherland preferred to keep a five-match format against one of Australia's more traditional rivals, he said the demands of international scheduling made it too difficult.

If Hobart is granted a West Indies Test, it will be the first time the Caribbean side has played one in Tasmania.

On top of the extra Test, Australia is also being tipped to play a Rest of the World XI in a one-off Test and three limited-overs matches in October.

A flying visit to New Zealand in December to play three one-dayers in the Chappell-Hadlee series is also on the cards.

Sutherland also confirmed CA was keen on scheduling a domestic Twenty20 competition after being buoyed by crowds of more than 20,000 at each of the matches played last week.

The matches between state teams Western Australia and Victoria in Perth and Australia A and Pakistan in Adelaide were the first first-class Twenty20 fixtures in Australia.

Australia must be on top of the International Cricket Council rankings in both Tests and limited overs cricket in April if it is to play the Rest of the World in the October Super series.

That series will start with three day-night matches at Melbourne's Telstra Dome on October 5, 7 and 9 and a six-day Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground starting October 13.

Sri Lanka is also likely to visit Australia to play in the 2005-06 triangular one-day series.

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