Test cricket will return to the WACA in Perth, with Australia’s women’s team set to play the format against South Africa for the first time in early 2024 as part of their multi-format series.
It will be one of three Tests Australia will play in nine months following the Ashes meeting in June and one on the multi-format tour of India scheduled for December and January. However, unlike the five-day Ashes Test, the match against South Africa lasts four days.
Cricket Australia (CA) announced the home games for the 2023-24 season on Sunday, in which Pakistani men will visit for three tests, including the traditional games in Melbourne and Sydney, while both West Indies men’s and women’s teams will feature.
Men from the West Indies tour in successive seasons due to a quirk in the next FTP, with their tests taking place in Adelaide, which will revert to a daytime match for a season, and then Brisbane, which will host a day-night encounter.
The testing summer for men extends well into January next season due to the 2023 ODI World Cup and then a five-match T20I series, meaning Australia will not return home until early December. However, the T20 and Test teams will likely look very different.
Their summer begins with the first Test against Pakistan in Perth from December 14, before the teams meet in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and the New Year’s Test at the SCG.
Adelaide will host a red-ball test against the West Indies from January 17, before a day-night test at the Gabba from January 25. This means that all tests fall during the holiday period.
White-ball players will be available for the entire men’s BBL before entering camp for three ODIs and three T20s against the West Indies between February 2-13.
But the opening of the international season is in danger of being completely overshadowed by the National Rugby League (NRL), with the first match scheduled for Sydney on Australian women’s grand final day against the West Indies in a T20I at North Sydney Oval on October 1.
That match ends just hours before the NRL grand final, asking fans to choose which event to attend and viewers to knock out the run-ups of the rugby league grand final.
CA believes that in a messy schedule, a Sunday start in Sydney is the way to go, hoping to take advantage of Channel Seven promoting the game during the AFL Grand Final the previous day.
They also believe that October 1 should be the start of the cricket season, that scheduling conflicts with other sports are inevitable and that their world champion women’s team can win.
But privately, there are concerns from some about the significant challenges the sport will face in promoting the T20 match in Sydney, with a second match to be played the day after the grand final.
Australia’s vice-captain Alyssa Healy hoped the situation would not affect the public, while acknowledging there are some hurdles to overcome in attracting fans.
“It could be [a problem]“Maybe we get a little bit wiped out in that,” Healy told AAP. “But in saying that, this is the start of the cricket summer. So hopefully that will be talked about that week.
“Yes the headlines will be dominated by AFL and NRL but they are anyway. Come see some of the world class athletes doing their thing in North Sydney if the NRL isn’t your thing. I don’t think we should be competing against the big final of the NRL, we can work around that.”
It is not the first time that concerns have been raised about the scheduling of women’s competitions.
Players were unhappy when they were switched to play on January 26 last summer, when Indigenous woman Ashleigh Gardner voiced her opposition to the decision.
Another match in the same series, against Pakistan at North Sydney Oval, collided with the Sydney Smash in the BBL.
However, there is good news for the women in the upcoming matches. After three T20Is and three ODIs against the West Indies in the early summer, they will host a multi-format series against South Africa in January and February.
Included is a day-night ODI at a large venue, Adelaide Oval, on February 3, followed by the test on the fast WACA wicket from February 15.