Windies year-end Australia tour off
By Tony Cozier
Stabroek News
February 28, 2004

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THE West Indies will next week finally, officially and reluctantly cancel their scheduled Test tour of Australia later this year, West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) cricket operations officer Zoral Barthley confirmed yesterday.

Barthley explained that, under the ICC's ten-year programme, the West Indies were down to tour Australia for four Tests, starting in mid-November.

But the WICB had been informed by their counterparts, Cricket Australia, that this was no longer possible as the inclusion of the ICC Champions Trophy in England in late September meant Australia had to put back a planned Test series in India. That would not now finish until mid-November.

The West Indies last toured Australia in 2000-01, losing all five Tests. Reports from Australia state they would still be one of the teams in the annual, one-day VB Series next January and February and are likely to be slotted in for three Tests in November and December 2005.

The development would give the West Indies a break from Test cricket of over six months, from the last of four in England in August to the series against South Africa in the Caribbean starting in March, 2005.

Peter Young, corporate affairs officer of Cricket Australia said yesterday the itinerary for the 2004-05 Australian season had still not been finalised.

"We have a draft that our own directors have approved," Young said in a telephone interview from his office in Melbourne.

"We're discussing the details of the draft with a number of cricket boards, with the television rights holders and with sponsors," he said. "Subject to their agreement, we would be able to announce our programme, possibly as early as next week, certainly within the next two or three weeks."

"We're a little bit reluctant to start talking publicly about what the details may or may not be when there's a possibility things might change," he added.

The WICB clearly was not prepared to send a team to Australia for a truncated series of two Tests.

Pakistan had always been scheduled on the ICC's programme as the second team for a Test series in 2004-05 and would not be affected.

"Trying to build a cricket programme is a little bit like playing a game of chess in three dimensions," Young said. "It's quite complex."

He explained that the timing of the ICC Champions Trophy "narrowed our window of opportunity".

"That's had an influence on our programme for next summer," he said. "We'll be playing a tri-nations series with India and Pakistan before the Champions Trophy, possibly in Holland, and, coming off the back of that, we then go to India for a Test series."