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Australia looking at 2023 window for postponed South Africa Test series

Tim Paine gets down for the paddle sweep Getty Images

Cricket Australia is hopeful they have found a window to play their postponed Test series against South Africa in 2023.

The series was originally scheduled for March of this year but Australia pulled out amid concerns over the biosecurity plans which led to an angry reaction from Cricket South Africa.

Nick Hockley, the CA chief executive, said the relationship with CSA was now "very strong" as they looked to find space in the calendar.

"As we said at the time when we were very disappointed and I know our players were extremely, extremely disappointed not to be able to go to South Africa, so we're pleased that we've been able to find a window in 2023 to reschedule," Hockley said after CA's AGM on Thursday.

South Africa had originally been scheduled to tour Australia in the 2021-22 season for white-ball matches but that was postponed due to being unable to fit the required quarantine periods into the calendar.

Australia have played very little Test cricket since the pandemic struck with just the four home matches against India last season and have not had an away series since the 2019 Ashes. Along with the South Africa series, a tour to Bangladesh was also postponed early in the pandemic.

The one-off Test against Afghanistan, which was delayed from last season and was due to be played in Hobart in late November, will be postponed again following CA's stance on women having access to support under the Taliban.

Next year should see a significant increase in the Tests they play. After the home Ashes they are scheduled for a trio of series in Asia against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India which form the away legs of their next World Test Championship campaign.

However, the Pakistan series, which is due to be Australia's first visit to the country since 1998, now has uncertainty around it following New Zealand's pullout and England's decision not to travel.

Negotiations around that tour will fall under a new CA chairman after Earl Eddings resigned yesterday having lost the support of Western Australia. Richard Freudenstein has taken on the role in an interim capacity with the aim to have the position filled permanently by the end of the year.

While there is confidence there will be a full summer of cricket in Australia, Covid-19 remains a major challenge and there are a number of other key issues on the horizon for the game including the next MoU negotiations - although CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association are now on much better terms - as well as rebuilding relationships at state level. John Knox, the New South Wales chairman, also made a call for a full governance review of CA during the AGM.

"I think the timing is a little bit unfortunate," Freudenstein said of Eddings' departure. "We at the board had planned for an orderly transition that would have started with appointing a successor at the end of the season, and then that handover happening over the next period of time to help build those relationships. But we've got an experienced board and an experienced executive team, and we will make sure things get done. That's just the way cricket works."

At the AGM it was confirmed that CA had spent $23 million on Covid-related costs including biosecurity although the game virtually broke even with an overall loss of $151,000. "Although this was an improvement on revised budgetary expectations, it represented a significant adverse variation from the four-year cycle projections in the long-range plan due to the impacts of Covid-19 on match revenues and costs," a statement said.