The International Cricket Council’s future tours program has the series scheduled for June. However, an already log-jammed calendar – in which Australia tour Bangladesh for two Tests in June before heading to England for three Twenty20 internationals and three ODIs in July – means the Zimbabwe series is unlikely until later in the year.
Smith, Warner, Starc and Finch – all ODI mainstays – were among the 10 Australians taken in the inaugural Hundred draft in October, with the quartet fetching the maximum price tag of $236,000. All four are set to join their Hundred sides after the England ODI series, which concludes on July 16.
The Hundred – which features 100-ball matches and has been heavily trumpeted by the England and Wales Cricket Board – begins on July 17.
Sources have indicated that CA and ZC are looking at dates around mid-August for the ODI series. That would likely mean a clash with the concluding stages of The Hundred, which ends on August 15.
In the event of a clash, the Australians would be mandated to return home for the one-dayers against the world’s 12th-ranked side, with their CA contracts stipulating that national team commitments take precedence over overseas club tournaments.
D’Arcy Short, Glenn Maxwell, Chris Lynn, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Dan Christian and Adam Zampa are the other Australians signed to Hundred teams, while men’s national team assistant coach Andrew McDonald could also have a clash given his role as coach of The Hundred’s Birmingham Phoenix.
Aside from the 2015 World Cup, Zimbabwe haven’t toured Australia since the summer of 2003-04.
This month’s India series was scheduled on the FTP, although Cricket Australia requested for it to be rescheduled. However the Board of Control for Cricket in India rejected that request, with their own men’s team also heavily booked, including for a tour of New Zealand which begins later this month.
While this jolt to the traditional schedule is a one-off under the FTP, which runs until 2023, the future of the international calendar is likely to be on the agenda when CA chief Kevin Roberts visits India this month.
BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly last month revealed plans for an annual four-nation “Super Series” of ODIs, beginning in 2021, which would involve India, England, Australia and one other country. Roberts described the idea as “innovative” without firmly committing to the idea.
After the upcoming India series, Australian players return home to play the end of the Big Bash League before white-ball tours of South Africa and New Zealand, and home ODIs against NZ in March. Many will then head back to India for the Indian Premier League before their international commitments resume in Bangladesh.
The men’s team has a distinct white-ball focus this year ahead of the T20 World Cup on Australian soil in October and November, which will be followed by a historic home Test against Afghanistan and four Tests against India.
Warm-up T20 series’ against India and the West Indies also appear on the FTP before the World Cup.
Australian ODI batsman Peter Handscomb addressed the scheduling issues pragmatically on Tuesday.
“It’s a bit different to be going away from Australia in the Australian summer, but that’s cricket at the moment. It’s all around the world, 12 months of the year, so you’ve got to be ready to play wherever the schedule takes you,” he said.
A move to four-day Tests is set to be considered by the ICC cricket committee this year. Among the benefits of the proposed reduction of Tests by a day would be the additional space gained by matches lasting one fewer day in a tight calendar.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter