Cricket-India, Australia to clash in two five-test series in next four years

Cricket - One Day International Series - England v India - Old Trafford Cricket Ground, Manchester, Britain - July 17, 2022 General view of spectators during the match Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India and Australia will clash in five-test series twice during the next four-year calendar, which will feature more international matches across the game's three formats.

The Border-Gavaskar series between India and Australia will feature a test more and will be contested over five matches, according to the Future Tours Programme (FTP) for 2023-27 released by the International Cricket Council on Wednesday.

Rohit Sharma's men are scheduled to tour Down Under at the end of 2024 while Australia will play their away series in India at the start of 2027, the FTP showed.

"The increase to a reciprocal five test Border-Gavaskar series is a significant milestone and will greatly enhance the enduring rivalry and respect that exists between the Australian and Indian men's teams," said Peter Roach, Cricket Australia's head of cricket operations and scheduling.

India, who finished runner-up behind New Zealand in the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC), will also host England for a five-test series at the start of 2024 before travelling to meet Ben Stokes' side the following year for five tests.

Pakistan, which has seen international cricket return home in recent years following a lengthy absence due to security concerns, will play host to England, South Africa and New Zealand in tests among others.

Outside bilateral cricket, the next four-year cycle will see one edition each of the 50-over Cricket World Cup (2023) and Champions Trophy (2025), two editions each of the Twenty20 World Cup (2024, 2026) and the WTC Finals (2025).

The proliferation of lucrative domestic T20 leagues have cramped up cricket's already-strained calendar but despite that the 12 Full Members will play a total of 777 international matches compared to the 694 in the current cycle.

The ICC discussed the growth of T20 leagues and the structuring of the game's three formats in its annual general meeting in Birmingham last month.

"The landscape around the game is continuing to evolve and we will work closely with members as we collectively adapt to that," Wasim Khan, ICC general manager of cricket, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We are committed to growing the game and giving more fans more opportunities to enjoy cricket, but are very mindful of the need to balance that ambition with the welfare of players."

England all-rounder Stokes quit the 50-overs format last month citing an "unsustainable" workload, South Africa's Quinton de Kock dropped test cricket last year while fast bowler Trent Boult gave up his New Zealand contract to have a reduced role with the Black Caps.

As promised by the powerful Indian cricket board, the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) has an extended 10-week window from mid-March to end May, during which very little international cricket has been scheduled in the next calendar.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Christian Radnedge)

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