Australia's four-Test series against India will now start in Adelaide on December 9 after Cricket Australia on Monday reworked the schedule following the tragic death of Phillip Hughes
Adelaide: Ending days of speculation, the first Test between India and Australia was on Monday rescheduled for December 9 here at the adopted home ground of late batsman Phillip Hughes, whose tragic death left the host country devastated.
"The series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will now commence in Adelaide on the revised date of Tuesday December 9," Cricket Australia said in a statement.
The second Test in Brisbane will start on December 17, followed by Melbourne on December 26 and the final match in Sydney, starting January 6.
A two-day tour game featuring a CA XI was cancelled last week, but India might get an opportunity to play a practice match later this week.
These changes follow discussions between CA, the Australian Cricketers' Association and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Virat Kohli. Pic/ AFP
CA Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland thanked the BCCI for its continued support and understanding.
"The BCCI has shown great empathy and understanding which we truly appreciate. They have put the cricket community's concerns for the Hughes family well ahead of their own preparation," he said.
The revised schedule allows for a three-day break leading into the Brisbane Test and a four-day break ahead of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne for players to adequately prepare.
"The Sydney Test has also been shifted as a result with its start date moving to January 6 to allow for six-day break for players towards the end of a busy series," the statement said.
It also enables a five-day break leading into the ODI Series between Australia, England and India.
Sutherland said the changed program was made due to welfare concerns for Australia's players grieving the loss of Hughes who passed away last week.
Hughes' funeral will take place in his home town of Macksville on Wednesday. The entire Australian team, Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, visiting side's coach Duncan Fletcher and Team Director Ravi Shastri will attend the funeral of the young batsman.
"Nobody should underestimate just what these players are going through right now. These are difficult days and we need to support them in dealing with their grief," Sutherland said.
"It's very clear that playing a Test right now is just too soon and we are reacting accordingly. We appreciate the understanding of cricket fans around the country, particularly those in Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney during these highly difficult times.
"We acknowledge the difficulties this presents within the cricket communities that make these Test matches such terrific occasions. We are grateful to State Cricket Associations and venues in those cities for their understanding and willingness to accommodate such last-minute changes," he added.
Sutherland said any date later than December 9 would have made the series very hectic for the players.
"A concern with these changes has been creating congestion within the cricket calendar by holding four Test
matches in 33 days. We knew that if we started any later than December 9, that congestion would only get worse.
"We looked at possibly holding the Brisbane Test in the new year following Sydney but we felt that would only compromise the tri-series against England and India which is important preparation for our ICC Cricket World Cup campaign," he said.
"There will be knock-on effects from these decisions which people will obviously want answers to. We will work
through them as quickly as we can, but just ask for patience given these unprecedented circumstances."
Sutherland said having the opening Test in Adelaide, which Hughes considered his home, would be a fitting tribute
to the batsman who would have turned 26 yesterday.
"While this wasn't done by design, it is somewhat fitting that the first Test will take place in Adelaide at Phillip's
adopted home ground where we hope the match can be a seen as a celebration of his life.
"We are committed to developing a range of tributes that show just how much Phillip was loved by the Australian cricket community," he said.
CA said pre-purchased tickets will be honoured for the revised Test matches, while refunds would also be available. "Details for ticket purchasers will be communicated via the relevant ticket agency, either Ticketek or Ticketmaster. Cricket Australia will contact all Cricket Australia Corporate Hospitality customers shortly."
ACA Chief Executive Alistair Nicholson was also satisfied with the changed schedule. "Based on our discussions with the players and with support of health experts, we believed the First Test in Brisbane was still too early for them to return to the field, and that the Adelaide Test presents more time to grieve and mentally prepare," he said.
"Players will look to prepare themselves with the dedication and commitment that is a trademark of our Australian Test cricketers. There is no doubt that their return to the field will be enormously challenging, particularly for those who were present on the SCG last week.
"Asking them to take the field virtually straight after they farewell Phillip at his funeral was just too much. The extra days afforded the players are considered a vital part of their recovery process and we're pleased that our representations to Cricket Australia were met with a sympathetic ear," he added.
CA also announced that there will be some changes to the schedule for the T20 Big Bash League.