The possibility of a fixture backlog has forced the Australian Cricket Board to break with tradition and intersperse next year's Ashes Test series against England with limited-overs internationals. The move is designed to allow the ACB to get through its international schedule in time for the World Cup in South Africa beginning in February 2003.
In another change, the third final of the three-nation limited-overs competition, involving Australia, England and Sri Lanka, will be in Adelaide, if required. It will be the first time a one-day final has been scheduled outside Sydney or Melbourne. Five of the one-day matches are to be played between the third Ashes Test in Adelaide – from 29 November to 3 December – and the fourth Test in Melbourne starting on 26 December.
The remaining 10 matches of the one-day series, including the best-of-three final, will be played after the Test series. If needed, the third game of the final, in Adelaide on 27 January, will be two weeks earlier than this season's scheduled finish.
The ACB's chief executive, James Sutherland, said the schedule was unavoidable, given that Australia and the visiting teams needed to be in South Africa in time to prepare for the World Cup. "While a 'blocked' format remains our preferred schedule, it simply wasn't possible to arrange the season in this way next summer," he said.
The 2002 Ashes series will get underway in Brisbane on 7 November.
2002 ASHES DATES
First Test – Nov 7-11 Brisbane; Second Test – Nov 21-25 Perth; Third Test – Nov 29-Dec 3 Adelaide; Fourth Test – Dec 26-30 Melbourne; Fifth Test – Jan 2-6 Sydney.
VB SERIES – Australia, England, Sri Lanka (all day/night games except where stated): Australia v England – Dec 13 Sydney; Australia v England – Dec 15 Melbourne; England v Sri Lanka – Dec 17 Brisbane; England v Sri Lanka – Dec 20 Perth; Australia v Sri Lanka – Dec 22 Perth; Australia v Sri Lanka – Jan 9 Sydney; Australia v England – Jan 11 Hobart (day game); England v Sri Lanka – Jan 13 Sydney; Australia v Sri Lanka – Jan 15 Brisbane; England v Sri Lanka – Jan 17 Adelaide; Australia v England – Jan 19 Adelaide; Australia v Sri Lanka – Jan 21 Melbourne; First Final – Jan 23 Sydney; Second Final – Jan 25 Melbourne; Third Final – Jan 27 Adelaide (if required).