Virat Kohli and Steve Smith.

Australia set dates for COVID-threatened India cricket tour

Australia announced dates for India’s lucrative Test cricket tour as the centrepiece of a busy home season on Thursday, but admitted that plans remained in flux because of the coronavirus.

Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts said the picture was “evolving every day” as he unveiled men’s fixtures against Zimbabwe, the West Indies and Afghanistan, as well as India.

Australia are also due to host the men’s Twenty20 World Cup in October and November.

Australia’s women, crowned T20 world champions in Melbourne in March — as the pandemic closed in on world sport — will host New Zealand and India.

“We know that circumstances or events beyond our control could mean that the final schedule potentially may look different to the one released today,” Roberts said in a statement.

“But we’ll be doing everything we can to get as much international cricket in as possible this summer.”

The men’s Tests against India are scheduled to start in Brisbane on December 3, followed by Adelaide from December 11, the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and Sydney from January 3.

Australia this month dethroned India as the world’s top-ranked Test team, setting up the series as a blockbuster.

Crucially, it would also generate hundreds of millions of dollars for a host organisation struggling during the coronavirus shutdown.

Revenue from the series is so important to Cricket Australia that it has proposed adding a fifth Test, which would mean ditching the one-off Test against Afghanistan in Perth from November 21.

India have said they are prepared to undergo quarantine to make the series happen. Australia’s borders are currently closed to non-residents as a measure against coronavirus.

“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,” Roberts said.

Final details of the men’s three-match one-day international series with Zimbabwe, scheduled to start on August 9, will be confirmed at a later date, CA said.

Australia’s men then welcome the West Indies for three T20s from October 4, before three T20s against India, followed by the Afghan Test and the India Test series.

Fixtures:

Men

Aug 9 – Australia v Zimbabwe 1st ODI at venue TBA

Aug 12 – Australia v Zimbabwe 2nd ODI at venue TBA

Aug 15 – Australia v Zimbabwe 3rd ODI in Townsville

Women

Sept 27 – Australia v New Zealand 1st T20 in Sydney

Sept 29 – Australia v New Zealand 2nd T20 in Sydney

Oct 1 – Australia v New Zealand 3rd T20 in Sydney

Oct 5 – Australia v New Zealand 1st ODI in Townsville

Oct 7 – Australia v New Zealand 2nd ODI in Cairns

Oct 10 – Australia v New Zealand 3rd ODI in Gold Coast

Men

Oct 4 – Australia v West Indies 1st T20 in Townsville

Oct 6 – Australia v West Indies 2nd T20 in Cairns

Oct 9 – Australia v West Indies 3rd T20 in Gold Coast

Oct 11 – Australia v India 1st T20 in Brisbane

Oct 14 – Australia v India 2nd T20 in Canberra

Oct 17 – Australia v India 3rd T20 in Adelaide

Nov 21-25 – Australia v Afghanistan, only Test in Perth

Dec 3-7 – Australia v India 1st Test in Brisbane

Dec 11-15 – Australia v India 2nd Test in Adelaide

Dec 26-30 – Australia v India 3rd Test in Melbourne

Jan 3-7 – Australia v India 4th Test in Sydney

Women

Jan 22 – Australia v India 1st ODI in Canberra

Jan 25 – Australia v India 2nd ODI in Melbourne

Jan 28 – Australia v India 3rd ODI in Hobart

Men

Jan 12 – Australia v India 1st ODI in Perth

Jan 15 – Australia v India 2nd ODI in Melbourne

Jan 17 – Australia v India 3rd ODI in Sydney

Jan 26 – Australia v New Zealand 1st ODI in Adelaide

Jan 29 – Australia v New Zealand 2nd ODI in Canberra

Jan 31 – Australia v New Zealand 3rd ODI in Hobart

Feb 2 – Australia v New Zealand only T20 in Sydney