The Gabba will again host the first Test next summer. Picture: AAP
The Gabba will again host the first Test next summer. Picture: AAP

Cricket on collision course with AFL, NRL

Australia's cricket summer will kick into gear on Melbourne Cup Day and finish in a collision with the NRL and AFL in late March.

The Gabba fortress has been restored as the first Test venue, while two back-to-back day-night Tests will take place in Adelaide and Perth against Pakistan and New Zealand respectively.

Cricket Australia is set to release its 2019-20 summer schedule on Tuesday with some unprecedented elements, including the jewel in the crown of a women's World Cup on home soil and a revamp of how the domestic one-day format will be structured.

The glaring hole in the schedule is the disappearing act the Australian team will perform in the height of the summer, after being summonsed to play three one-dayers in India around the middle of January.

 

The Gabba will again host the first Test next summer. Picture: AAP
The Gabba will again host the first Test next summer. Picture: AAP

India's power-play has forced Australia to move the ODI series it should have been hosting against New Zealand in January to autumn, where three matches are understood to have been pencilled in for March 13, 15 and 20.

The extraordinary late timing of this trans-Tasman series (where both teams will wear retro kits) would put Aaron Finch's team in direct competition with the NRL's round one and two Friday night blockbusters as well as potentially week one of the AFL season.

It's understood one or two of the matches could be in Sydney at the SCG, presenting the prospect of an unprecedented challenge for ground staff to turn around the traditional centre-wicket square within two or three weeks for the start of the Sydney Swans' AFL season.

 

Adelaide (pictured) and Perth will host back-to-back day-night Tests. Picture: AFP
Adelaide (pictured) and Perth will host back-to-back day-night Tests. Picture: AFP

 

The SCG's workload this season has already been a much-scrutinised issue, but if there was to be cricket, AFL and rugby league played at the historic venue inside such a short time frame, it would shape as a stunning race against time to get the surface into football-ready condition.

The highlight of the coming summer will be the women's Twenty20 World Cup which will take place between February 21 and March 8 and will aim for a landmark sellout of the MCG for the final to be staged on International Women's Day.

In a novel attempt to keep Melbourne Cup revellers locked into sport on racing's big day, it's understood Cricket Australia will take a punt on scheduling a Twenty20 international (against either Pakistan or Sri Lanka) on the night of November 5.

 

Australia will host the Women’s World Cup from February. Picture: Getty Images
Australia will host the Women’s World Cup from February. Picture: Getty Images

The match won't be in Melbourne, but follows a similar idea to one debuted last year, where Australia scheduled a women's international on the night of the AFL grand final in attempt to keep viewers on their couches and at pubs watching more world class sport.

Australia will play two Test series this summer, the first a two-match campaign against Pakistan, starting in late November in Brisbane.

New Zealand will then arrive for three Tests in the sweet-spot of the summer, including the Boxing Day and New Year's Tests.

Pakistan had originally refused to play the second Test as a day-nighter in Adelaide, but CA has talked them around.

A pink ball Sheffield Shield round will punctuate the first and second Tests to allow players to properly prepare.

On the two recent occasions the Gabba has been brushed as the summer's first Test venue - last year against India and three seasons ago South Africa - it has ended in disaster.

Australia hasn't lost an opening Test at the Gabba for more than 30 years and Micky Arthur's Pakistan team must defy history - with tradition restored.

 

There could be heavy traffic at the SCG early next year. Picture: AAP
There could be heavy traffic at the SCG early next year. Picture: AAP

 

Cricket Australia will also make a significant change to its domestic program. The one-day competition will no longer be shoehorned into one rapid-fire block - but will be staged in a couple of spurts in and around the start of the Sheffield Shield.

The one-day competition will start in October, but will then intersperse with Shield games.

As revealed by The Saturday Telegraph, the BBL will introduce a new finals system and will have all Australia's international stars available for the playoffs.

HIGHLIGHTS OF SUMMER

*Domestic one-day competition to intersperse with first half of Sheffield Shield season

*Twenty20 international on Melbourne Cup night

*Two Tests against Pakistan (Brisbane, Adelaide), three Tests against New Zealand (Perth, Melbourne, Sydney)

*First Test of summer back at the Gabba

*Back-to-back day-night Tests in Adelaide and Perth

*Pink ball Sheffield Shield round directly before pink ball Tests

*Australia leave home for ODIs v India in INDIA in January

*Revamped BBL Finals system

*Women's World Cup

*ODI series v NZ in mid-late March head-to-head with NRL, AFL

News Corp Australia


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