Dates set for India, Afghanistan Tests
Australia's inaugural Test with Afghanistan to precede a four-Test Border-Gavaskar series that includes a Gabba opener and Adelaide day-night clash
28 May 2020, 11:39 AM AEST
Australia's Test summer is scheduled to begin with an inaugural showdown with Afghanistan in Perth with the Gabba to host the opening match of a highly anticipated four-Test Border-Gavaskar Series.
Cricket Australia will on Friday announce the full men's and women's international schedule for the 2020-21 summer, underlining the growing confidence the season will be able to proceed amid loosening COVID-19 restrictions. But the governing body will reserve the right to change the schedule given the uncertainty surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic.
Afghanistan and Australia are due to meet for the first time in Test cricket at the Perth Stadium, with the match scheduled to be a day-night affair, from November 21.
Australia will then begin their bid to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy at their Gabba fortress on December 3 after the Brisbane venue edged out Western Australia for the coveted fixture.
Australia's recent record at the Gabba is the longest active unbeaten streak in Test cricket at a single venue, one that has now reached an impressive 31 matches dating back to 1988, when Australia lost to the great West Indies side of that time.
Captains Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith and Tim Paine have all maintained the undefeated run since and the home side has claimed an incredible 24 wins and seven draws in that time.
The imposing record makes the Gabba a favourite among Australia's players. It has already been confirmed to host the first Test of next summer's 2021-22 Ashes Series and is undergoing a $35m facelift to upgrade public, corporate and media facilities in anticipation of the T20 World Cup.
Tim Paine gives Virat Kohli a little clip in the post-game presser 🍿 The Aussie captain is keen to play against India in Brisbane next summer! pic.twitter.com/NCmGqua67s— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 24, 2019
India captain Virat Kohli, speaking in January, said his team would welcome the challenge of defending the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, whatever the venue.
"Whether it is the Gabba or Perth, it doesn't matter to us," Kohli said.
"We have the skillsets as a team to compete against anyone in the world anywhere, whether it is white ball, pink ball or red ball.
"We are absolutely up for it."
India avoided the Gabba on their last tour in 2018-19 when they faced an Australian side missing the suspended Steve Smith and David Warner, winning the series 2-1, and captain Tim Paine admitted "facing the Indian attack on that wicket wouldn't have been easy".
However, the players' affection for the Gabba was made clear when Paine added ahead of last year's Test match: "We can't wait to come to the Gabba, knowing that Australian sides play well and win a lot of Test matches here.
"We have to be able to do it on any surface and any venue, and that's something we are building towards.
"It's where we traditionally like to start so it feels like the Australian summer when you get together and get out on the Gabba.
"It's a great place for us to play – the wicket suits Australian sides really well so to start here is fantastic and the boys are really looking forward to it."
Adelaide will host the second Test against India on December 11-15, which will be the first ever pink-ball meeting between the two countries, and India's first on foreign soil.
Australia are undefeated in seven day-night Test matches, all played at home, while India thrashed Bangladesh at home in their first and so-far only day-night Test last November.
Australian paceman Mitchell Starc, who is far-and-away the world's most potent pink-ball wicket-taker, this week welcomed the prospect of a day-night showdown with India.
"I think absolutely a pink-ball Test in the series against India is a great thing," Starc said.
"The fans love it, I think it creates a different aspect to the contest, bat and ball are closer together in that contest.
"India played a pink-ball game in India so they're not completely foreign to it
"In terms of an advantage, if you like, we do have a good record at home with the pink ball.
"That might come into a home-ground advantage and it's no different to us going to India and they've got the advantage there.
"It'd be great to have a pink-ball contest in that series and from the little bits I've seen and heard, India are very much open to that as well so that's fantastic."
The traditional Boxing Day and New Year's Tests are scheduled to follow at the MCG and the SCG respectively.
With the International Cricket Council Board due to meet via telephone hook-up over Thursday night, the fate of October's T20 World Cup may become clearer in the next 24 hours.
The ICC issued a statement to say planning for the event – scheduled to be played in Australia between October 18 and November 15 – was continuing.
"Reports of a postponement of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2020 are inaccurate and planning for the event continues whilst a number of contingency plans are being explored in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the COVID 19 virus," the ICC statement read.
The full international schedule for the Australian summer, expected to include limited-over fixtures against India and New Zealand for both men's and women's Aussie teams, will be announced tomorrow.
The Australian domestic schedule, including WBBL and BBL fixtures, will be announced on a later date.
Men's Test v Afghanistan
Only Test: November 21-25, Perth Stadium (day-night)
Men's Test Series v India
First Test: December 3-7, Gabba
Second Test: December 11-15, Adelaide Oval (day-night)
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 3-7, SCG