The Proteas celebrate after their Test series victory over Australia. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - SuperSport Park in Centurion has been awarded the prestigious Boxing Day Test for the 2018-19 season with the Proteas set to face off against Pakistan.

After years of disappointing crowds at both Kingsmead in Durban and St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, Cricket South Africa has moved the opening Test of the international summer to the Highveld.

Even the inaugural pink-ball day/night Test match held over Boxing Day last year against Zimbabwe failed to attract a good attendance.

Previously CSA have been loath to play Test cricket on the Highveld during the festive season, mindful of the fact that the majority of the Gauteng and Pretoria fan-base are away on holiday at the coast. However, this has not transcended into bumper crowds at the respective Boxing Day venues and CSA are hoping the move up north will attract a fair audience.

The Boxing Day Test will be the first of a three-match series against Pakistan, with the second and third Tests played in Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively. The traditional New Year’s Newlands Test – the second Test – has been moved back to start on January 3.

Safraz Ahmed’s team will also play a five-match ODI series and three-match T20 series against the Proteas. The ODI series against the current ICC Champions Trophy holders will be particularly important preparation for the ICC World Cup in England later in 2019.

Pakistan will be one of three countries to visit South Africa in a bumper 2018-19 international season. Prior to the Asian giants’ visit, neighbours Zimbabwe will also face-off against the Proteas in three ODI’s and three T20’s during September and October to kickoff the summer.

The season concludes with Sri Lanka also touring South Africa for another full tour. The Sri Lankans will play two Test matches at Kingsmead and St. George’s Park to be followed by five ODIs and three T20 International matches.

“We are pleased to announce the complete schedule of international cricket for our home season,” commented CSA Acting Chief Executive, Thabang Moroe. “It is going to be a very busy period and a very big one for our Proteas who will be using the programme of 13 ODI’s against three different opponents in addition to the away tours to fine tune their preparations for the 2019 ICC World Cup to be played in England and Wales commencing on 30 May next year.

“Following the outstanding Test match cricket played by the Proteas during the past season we can also look forward to plenty more world-class entertainment by our acknowledged stars during the five Test matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“By taking the Zimbabwe tour to some of our smaller venues we are also creating the opportunity for our fans around the country to see the Proteas in action. Our fans now also have the opportunity to make their holiday plans in good time so that they can watch the Proteas in action in their favourite formats,” concluded Mr. Moroe.

Zimbabwe tour itinerary 2018:

September 30: 1st ODI, Diamond Oval, Kimberley (Day) 10am

October 3: 2nd ODI, Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein (D/N) 1pm

October 6: 3rd ODI, Boland Park, Paarl (D/N) 1pm

October 9:  1st T20 International, Buffalo Park, East London (D/N) (6pm)

October 12: 2nd T20 International, Senwes Park, Potchefstroom (D/N) (6pm)

October 14: T20 International, Willowmoore Park, Benoni (Day) (2:30pm)

Pakistan tour itinerary 2018/19:

December 19-21: Three-day tour match v SA Invitation XI, Willowmoore Park, Benoni (10am)

December 26-30: 1st Test match, SuperSport Park, Centurion (10am)

January 3-7: 2nd Test match, Newlands, Cape Town (10:30am)

January 11-15: 3rd Test match, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg (10am)

January 19: 1st ODI, St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth (D/N) (1pm)

January 22: 2nd ODI, Kingsmead, Durban (D/N) (1pm)

January 25: 3rd ODI, SuperSport Park, Centurion (D/N) (1pm)

January 27: 4th ODI, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg (Day) (10am)

January 30: 5th ODI, Newlands, Cape Town (D/N) (1pm)

February 1: 1st T20 International, Newlands, Cape Town (D/N) (6pm)

February 3: 2nd T20 International, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg (Day) (2:30pm)

February 6: 3rd T20 International, SuperSport Park, Centurion (D/N) (6pm)

Sir Lanka tour itinerary 2019:

February 13-17: 1st Test match, Kingsmead, Durban (10am)

February 21-25: 2nd Test match, St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth (10am)

February 28: One-Day tour match v SA Invitation XI, Willowmoore Park, Benoni (Day) (10am)

March 3: 1st ODI, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg (Day) (10am)

March 6: 2nd  ODI, SuperSport Park, Centurion (D/N) (1pm)

March 10: 3rd ODI, Kingsmead, Durban (Day) (10am)

March 13: 4th ODI, St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth (D/N) (1pm)

March 16: 5th ODI, Newlands, Cape Town (D/N) (1pm)

March 19: 1st T20 International, Newlands, Cape Town (D/N) (6pm)

March 22: 2nd T20 International, SuperSport Park, Centurion (D/N) (6pm)

March 24: 3rd T20 International, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium (Day) (2:30pm)

IOL Sport

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