New Proteas coach Ottis Gibson will have experienced the Bangladesh series and a one-off Boxing Day Test ahead of India's arrival in SA. Photo: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa and India are believed to be close to an agreement on a schedule for a tour of South Africa in January and February.

According to the ESPNcricinfo website, it is expected that the first of a possible four Test matches will start on January 5 or 6, three or four days later than South Africa’s traditional preferred start on the January 2 holiday.

Cricket South Africa communications manager Altaaf Kazi confirmed that negotiations were advanced. “We are engaging with them and are planning for a full tour,” he said.

The original plan was for four Tests, three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals.

Cricket South Africa wanted the first Test to start on December 26, but India have a home series against Sri Lanka ending on December 24, and want to spend time in South Africa – including playing of a warm-up match – before the start of a Test series.

Negotiations have been complicated by the fact that Australia will be playing four Test matches in South Africa, starting on March 1, which makes the time frame for the India tour a tight one.

There has been speculation that the India Test series may be reduced to three matches.

Cricket South Africa have announced that despite the late arrival of India, there will be a December 26 Boxing Day Test, although no opponent has yet been named.