Australia [ Images ] will kick off their home cricket season in December with two Test matches against trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand [ Images ] before taking on the world's top-ranked Test side India [ Images ] in a four-match series, Cricket Australia said on Tuesday.
Former top dogs Australia have slumped to fifth in the world Test rankings and new captain Michael Clarke [ Images ] faces a stiff challenge to salve home fans still smarting from the Ashes debacle, which concluded in January, with victory over the sub-continental power.
After playing December Tests against New Zealand at the Gabba [ Images ] in Brisbane [ Images ] and Hobart's picturesque Bellerive Oval, Australia play India in Melbourne [ Images ] for the traditional Boxing Day Test before the series moves to Sydney [ Images ], Perth and Adelaide respectively.
"With the commencement of the ICC [ Images ] World Test Championship we know that every test win is vital and the Australian team will be keen to start the home season positively against New Zealand," Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland said in a statement.
Australia, who are in the throes of a comprehensive team performance review following their 3-1 loss to England [ Images ] in the Ashes, need to be ranked in the top four to qualify for the ICC's first Test world championship, slated for 2013.
Leading one-day international side Australia and World Cup holders India then play two Twenty20 [ Images ] matches in February before being joined by Sri Lanka [ Images ] for 12 ODI matches excluding finals, in the home side's first tri-series in four years.
Australia play World Cup finalists Sri Lanka in three tests, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches in a tour starting in August but are battling a raft of injuries, including finger complaints for former captain Ricky Ponting [ Images ] and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin [ Images ].
The side has also been rocked by huge criticism of team selection policies after 35-year-old opening batsman Michael Katich was denied a central contract, signalling the likely end of his test career.
The Australian 2010-11 cricket schedule is as follows:
Dec. 1-5 Australia v New Zealand (Gabba)
Dec. 9-13 Australia v New Zealand (Bellerive Oval)
Dec. 26-30 Australia v India (MCG)
Jan. 3-7 Australia v India (SCG)
Jan. 13-17 Australia v India (WACA [ Images ])
Jan. 24-28 Australia v India (Adelaide Oval)
Feb. 1 Australia v India (Sydney Olympic [ Images ] Park)
Feb. 3 Australia v India (MCG)
Feb. 5 Australia v India (MCG)
Feb. 8 India v Sri Lanka (WACA)
Feb. 10 Australia v Sri Lanka (WACA)
Feb. 12 Australia v India (Adelaide Oval)
Feb. 14 India v Sri Lanka (Adelaide Oval)
Feb. 17 Australia v Sri Lanka (SCG)
Feb. 19 Australia v India (Gabba)
Feb. 21 India v Sri Lanka (Gabba)
Feb. 24 Australia v Sri Lanka (Bellerive Oval)
Feb. 26 Australia v India (SCG)
Feb. 28 India v Sri Lanka (Bellerive Oval)
March 2 Australia v Sri Lanka (MCG)
March 4 1st Final (Gabba)
March 6 2nd Final (Adelaide Oval)
March 8 3rd final (Adelaide Oval)