Johannesburg - Cricket South Africa on Monday announced a bumper international programme of matches in all three formats of the game against Zimbabwe, Pakistan and India for the 2010/11 summer season.
In spite of the tight schedule the Proteas will have adequate time to prepare for the ICC World Cup to be held on the Asian sub-continent in February and March.
The season consists of three Test matches against India, five home ODIs against India and a further three against Zimbabwe plus a five-match ODI series against Pakistan at the neutral venue of the United Arab Emirates.
There will also be three home International Pro20 matches against Zimbabwe and India plus an away match against Pakistan. The last of these against India will break new ground by being played at Durban’s magnificent new Moses Mabhida Stadium, a new venue for international cricket.
This match, which will also celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in South Africa and will see the inaugural contest for the Krish Mackerdhuj Trophy, will attract the biggest crowd ever to watch a cricket match in this country.
The Test series against India also offers the Proteas' Test squad the chance to challenge India for the No 1 rating on the ICC Reliance Mobile Test rankings.
Gerald Majola, CSA CEO, commented: “The upcoming international season will bring bumper fare for the Proteas and their fans.
“The Proteas will be going all-out to regain their status as the world’s top ranked team in both tests and ODIs and the fans will get the chance to spur them to the number one spot again.
“The visit by India will be a truly iconic tour featuring all three forms of the game, and will draw a massive world-wide audience.
“The Standard Bank International Pro20 match at the Fifa World CUP 2010 venue, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, will take on a very special significance as it will be one of the main events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in South Africa.
“India and the Proteas will be playing for the Krish Mackerdhuj Trophy, named after the former CSA President and a pioneer of the first South African cricket tour to India in 1991.
“Adding further sub-continental spice to this international mixture will be the encounters against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“The limited overs home series against Zimbabwe will be no push over either as the visitors have twice beaten Australia recently in the shortest version of the game. They also beat India twice and Sri Lanka in their home recent triangular ODI series and did exceptionally well to reach the final.
“All this action against varied opposition will give the Proteas just the kind of preparation they will need for the 2011 ICC World Cup.”
Proteas’ captain Graeme Smith commented: “This promises to be a very exciting season for all South African stake-holders. We only have 13 ODIs left to prepare for the ICC World Cup and we must make the maximum use of all of them.
“The No 1 Test match ranking is also a massive honour in our great game. We have had a very good run in this format over the past two years with away series wins in England and Australia and two drawn series in India.
“We can reward all the hard work put in by the playing and support staff by winning the Test series. This is one of our priority targets for the summer.
“We also owe our supporters some good Pro20 results after the disappointment of the ICC World Twenty20,” added Smith.
National coach Corrie van Zyl said he had been heartened by the improvement of the Proteas over the last six months.
“There have been a lot of encouraging signs about our away performances in India and West Indies although there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“The upcoming series against Zimbabwe, Pakistan and India form an important part in developing an upward curve because a winning run is the best way to build confidence, and confidence is the key to ultimate success.
“That ultimate goal for this season is the ICC World Cup in February.”
Majola added: “CSA would like to thank sponsors Castle, Standard Bank and MTN for making it this feast of cricket possible and for giving the Proteas the opportunity to perform at the highest levels.
‘We also thank the myriads of fans out there who have given the Proteas so much support through thick and thin. CSA looks forwards to this support getting even bigger over the next international season.”