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Australia to face India, England more often as ICC announces men’s Future Tours Program

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Australia will play India and England more regularly in men’s cricket after the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed its Future Tours Program.

The men’s global calendar — running from April 2023 to March 2027 — was released on Wednesday, with Australia signalling its intent for more matches against India and England.

One of the two nations will tour Australia for at least one format in most summers going forward, while Test series against India will extend to five matches.

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Australia’s five-decade stranglehold on an uninterrupted men’s domestic cricket summer will also end in the 2026-27 season with a January-February Test tour of India.

Australia will host West Indies in back-to-back Test summers in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons due to the ICC’s World Test Championship draw.

A winter Test will also return in August 2026 against Afghanistan, while January will now be devoid of Australian men’s white-ball internationals to benefit the Big Bash League.

But it is the 2026-27 season where fans will notice the most significant change.

Australia will host New Zealand for a three-Test series over the traditional Christmas-New Year period before heading to India for five Tests in January and February.

The Australians will then return for two Tests against Bangladesh at home in March, which will clash with the start of the major football seasons.

Those matches will be the latest men’s Tests played in Australia since 1979, while it will also mark the first time Australia has played a red-ball match overseas in January since 1970.

“This is the potential trade-off because in other years we have an increased level of content against our major [visitors],” Cricket Australia’s (CA) head of operations Peter Roach said.

“It would be less complicated if we had four Tests against India because we could have squeezed another two tests in before we left.

“With India, that is the window they identified as their preferred, just as we identify our preferred as December-January.

“We need to commit to reciprocating. It’s different, but we also know it’s still cricket season.

“When you look at it in totality, it’s still a great summer of cricket.”

The change will create significant challenges for CA, given there will be a desire from each ground to host in the December-January period rather than March.

But Roach said each of the major venues would now host Tests against India on future tours as one of the chief upsides.

“It will also create some opportunities for cricket to look at itself in a non-traditional way,” Roach said.

“This is still cricket season, every cricket competition around the country is still being played in March.

“It is still our season and we will make a fist of making those two tests great.”

Meanwhile, Australia has made a commitment to playing more white-ball series against Pakistan and Bangladesh, seeing both as the next big growing cricket economies.

On the whole there are less ODIs for the men, with just 15 scheduled in the next four years in Australia compared to the 12 that were initially set for this upcoming summer alone.

Also of note is the fact there are exactly five Tests in each home summer, meaning the likes of Hobart and Canberra will have to wait some time for their next Tests.

AAP

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