Australia could return to international action in August with a three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe penciled into the schedule in the northern parts of the country.
The series, which like all Australia’s fixtures for the 2020-21 season which have been announced is subject to change dependent on the Covid-19 situation, is also set to see them play their first international in the northern Queensland city of Townsville.
The first two matches of the series – which begins on August 9 – are still to have venues confirmed but Darwin is the favoured location. However, with just over two months until the series there remains a lot to still come together for them to happen.
Townsville previously hosted ODIs and T20Is between 2014 and 2016 involving Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong and Ireland. Outside of the 2015 World Cup, the last time Zimbabwe played in Australia was the 2004 tri-series.
Details of the main part of the Australia season, the visit of India, emerged on Wednesday with four Tests slated for Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney following a one-off Test against Afghanistan in Perth.
Australia’s women’s team is set to begin their season in late September with a visit by New Zealand for T20I and ODI series. They are then due to play India in an ODI series in mid-January that would provide preparation for the World Cup in New Zealand.
The men’s side has two T20I series scheduled against West Indies and India in early October but they are due to act as a warm-up for the T20 World Cup and could yet be moved if that tournament is postponed as expected. The West Indies matches are down for Townsville, Cairns and the Gold Coast.
The home international season will conclude with a visit by New Zealand’s men’s team for three ODIs and a T20I. The first ODI will be played on Australia Day, January 26, and the series could clash with the finals series of the Big Bash League and again keep Australia’s leading players away from the competition.
“While acknowledging the difficulty in navigating a global pandemic, we are nonetheless encouraged by the progress Australia is making in combatting the coronavirus and the positive impact that is having on our ability to host an exciting summer of cricket in 2020-21,” Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said.
“We know that circumstances or events beyond our control could mean that the final schedule potentially may look different to the one released today, but we’ll be doing everything we can to get as much international cricket in as possible this summer. We will communicate any changes to the schedule if or when they are required.
“We are engaged in ongoing discussions with federal and state governments, our venues and the touring nations to continually understand and monitor the situation in front of us, which is evolving every day. We’ll continue to act in accordance with public health advice and government protocols to ensure the safety of the public, players and support staff.”
It remains to be seen if crowds will be able to attend matches at any stage of the season, but Roberts said the behind-closed-doors ODI against New Zealand in March had been a valuable experience.
“We will continue to assess whether it is possible for them to attend matches in person, however if it is not deemed possible, we already have a solid blueprint in place,” he said. “CA made the decision in early March for our men’s team to play New Zealand in an ODI at the SCG in front of no fans due to coronavirus concerns. The experience will no doubt serve us well for planning purposes this summer.
“We will not rush any decisions however it’s crucial for us all to have a blueprint to work from to deliver cricket safely.”