More T20s for Australia as cricket searches for meaning

More T20s for Australia as cricket searches for meaning

Australia will play significantly more Twenty20s at the cost of the traditional formats as part of a revamp of the international schedule designed to give greater context to world cricket.

The International Cricket Council's future tours program to the end of 2023 outlines the fixture for the new nine-nation Test Championship and 13-team one-day international league.

In a league of their own: Cricket has a new one-day international league.

In a league of their own: Cricket has a new one-day international league.Credit:Reuters

In what should prove a financial windfall for Cricket Australia, Australia will play on-field powers India (2020-21), England (2021-22) and South Africa (2022-23) in Boxing Day and New Year's Tests in three of the four summers outlined in the four-year calendar.

In other fixture highlights:

  • Australia's next Test series in South Africa will be in March 2020, during which Steve Smith's two-year ban from leadership for ball tampering will end;
  • Australia has to wait until late 2022 to tackle India on the subcontinent;
  • Australia will play their first Test against Afghanistan at home in the 2020-21 summer as a warm-up for a series against India;
  • Australia are not due to play Tests in the Caribbean until after 2023 at the earliest.

Next year's Ashes series kicks off the inaugural World Test Championship, which runs through to April 30, 2021. The nine top-ranked Test nations will play six series, home and away, in the two-year cycle with the top two teams to play off in the final in June 2021, likely to be held in England.

The points system is yet to be finalised, but there is a preference for points to be awarded for each match, thereby eliminating dead rubbers, instead of series wins.

Australia's home series will be against Pakistan, New Zealand (both 2019-20) and India, while they also travel to Bangladesh and South Africa in early 2020.

The introduction of the one-day international league, to run from May 2020 to March 31, 2022, will dramatically change how series in that format are staged. Australia have typically held five-match series, but under the rules of the new league only three-game series will count.

Series longer than three matches can be held in the fourth year of a World Cup cycle.

Australia have had their number of ODI matches slashed. In the new calendar, Australia are scheduled for 47 ODIs from the 2019 Ashes to the end of the 2022-23 summer, down from the 66 it is due to play in the corresponding period from the 2015 Ashes through to the 2018-19 season.

Teams play eight series on a two-year cycle with host nation India and the top seven teams to qualify directly for the World Cup, while the bottom five go into a World Cup qualifier competition for the remaining two places.

While Australia's Tests are down marginally from 43 to 39, Twenty20s are up from 30 to 45. The increase in Twenty20 internationals comes despite calls from some international coaches for the format to be played only at franchise level.

There are two World T20 championships in the next future tours program, in 2020 in Australia and another the following year, which replaces the scrapped 2021 Champions Trophy.

"We can pick and choose the T20 content we play, as much or as little we want, but we have to arrange that on a bilateral basis that's not subject to ICC approval," CA chief James Sutherland said.

"On balance, what we're trying to do is play T20 cricket at a time that allows our team to prepare as best as possible for upcoming T20 events."

Sutherland said CA endorsed the creation of the Test championship and ODI league.

"We believe that the new FTP will be a big step forward for international cricket with much improved
structure and context for matches played in the Test and ODI formats," Sutherland said.

"Together with other member countries we are confident that this will grow interest in the international game."

Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald

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