Johannesburg – The England Lions will play two four-day Test matches and five 50 overs matches against South Africa A in January and February 2015, Cricket SA (CSA) said on Wednesday.

CSA and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) concluded an agreement regarding the England Lions tour in South Africa during the 2014/15 season and the South Africa A tour in England in 2017.

“This is a very important agreement for us,” CSA general manager Corrie van Zyl said in a statement.

“It continues our policy of enabling our second best team to test itself against some of the strongest cricket playing countries in the world.

“What is particularly important is that our A side will now tour England in 2017 at the same time as our senior squad is in that country.

“England is always an out-of-season tour for us and it will help a lot to know that our back-up players are match-fit in case of need.”

ECB performance director David Parsons said the tour would be an excellent opportunity for them to take on tough opposition in a challenging environment.

“It will also offer us an opportunity to test the players at the very highest level and allow the players to ultimately learn a great deal from the trip,” Parsons said.

“We look forward to visiting South Africa early next year.” – Sapa