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Proteas fixture schedule confirmed

The Proteas will play several matches ahead of the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The Proteas will play several matches in the lead-up to the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Picture: Facebook.com

JOHANNESBURG - Cricket South Africa (CSA) has announced the Proteas will play at least 23 One Day International (ODI) matches against five different countries as part of the team's build-up for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The Proteas will also play six Test matches between July 2014 and January 2015, including two Tests against Sri Lanka that were originally scheduled for 2013 but had to be postponed.

CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat says the fixture calendar is vital for the preparation of the team heading into the World Cup.

"Once we have completed our challenge for the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next month, we will turn much of our attention to next year's World Cup. Building quality experience is a vital part of preparing our ODI squad for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

"The series of ODI matches we will be playing in these two countries will provide valuable experience for the players as they prepare for the conditions expected during the World Cup."

Despite the focus on ODI cricket ahead of the World Cup, Lorgat says Test cricket will still be the primary emphasis for the Proteas as the number one Test side in the world.

"At the same time we would want to respect the primacy of Test match cricket. The Test Series against the West Indies will be the highlight of our home summer. With the traditional New Year Test match at Newlands and a Boxing Day encounter at St George's, fans will be in for a treat as we continue to defend our number one status."

Lorgat says releasing the entire fixture calendar so early in the year is a strategic move to allow cricket fans to factor the Proteas' engagements into their holiday planning.

"There were encouraging signs of good support for Test match cricket at St George's and we hope to see even greater attendances over the holiday period. That's why we want to announce our international fixtures early so that fans have plenty of time to make their holiday plans and come out in large numbers to support the Proteas."

The Proteas will travel to Sri Lanka in July to play two Tests and three ODIs, followed by a trip to Zimbabwe at the end of August for a single Test, three ODIs as well as a triangular series involving Zimbabwe, South Africa and Australia.

The Proteas ODI squad then travels to New Zealand in late October for a three match ODI series against the Black Caps, before taking on Australia in three T20 Internationals and five ODIs during November.

The Proteas preparation for the World Cup will conclude with the West Indies tour to South Africa, comprising three Tests, five ODIs and two T20 Internationals.

Proteas head coach Russell Domingo hopes his side can gain an advantage by playing ODIs in the World Cup host countries ahead of next year's tournament.

"I'm excited about the upcoming International fixtures for the next year. With it being a World Cup year, we have placed a lot of emphasis on the 50-over format and have tried to maximise our preparation by playing as many matches as possible in conditions that will be similar to those in New Zealand and Australia.

"I'm particularly pleased that we have managed fit in a tour to New Zealand ahead of our two limited-overs series against Australia, and hopefully playing at the prospective World Cup venues will play to our advantage during the tournament."

Domingo added that the jam-packed ODI calendar would allow him ample opportunity to work on the team's tactics and strategies.

"This bumper ODI schedule will allow us to finalise our group as quickly as possible and to start playing around with strategies and game plans. We will be facing strong opposition in the form of Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies, so I have no doubt that we will be adequately prepared ahead of the tournament.

WEST INDIES TOUR TO SOUTH AFRICA

10-12 December: Three-day warm-up match v SA Invitation XI, Sahara Willowmoore Park

17-21 December: 1st Sunfoil Test match, SuperSport Park, 10:30am

26-30 December: 2nd Sunfoil Test match, Axxess St. George's, 10:30am

2-6 January: 3rd Sunfoil Test match, Sahara Park Newlands, 10:30am

9 January: 1st KFC T20 International (D/N), Sahara Park Newlands, 6pm

11 January: 2nd KFC T20 International (D/N), Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, 3pm

16 January: 1st Momentum ODI (D/N), Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, 1:30pm

18 January: 2nd Momentum ODI (Day), Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, 10am

21 January: 3rd Momentum ODI (D/N), Buffalo Park, 1:30pm

25 January: 4th Momentum ODI (Day), Axxess St. George's, 10am

28 January: 5th Momentum ODI (D/N), SuperSport Park, 1:30pm

ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP

15 February: South Africa v Zimbabwe, Hamilton, New Zealand (D/N)

22 February: South Africa v India, Melbourne, Australia (D/N)

27 February: South Africa v West Indies, Sydney, Australia (D/N)

3 March: South Africa v Ireland, Canberra, Australia (D/N)

7 March: South Africa v Pakistan, Auckland, New Zealand (D/N)

12 March: South Africa v UAE, Wellington, New Zealand (D/N)

18-21 March: Quarter-finals

26 and 26 March: Semi-finals

29 March: Final