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Australia to cash in on Twenty20 craze

Cricket Australia has recognised the rising popularity of the Twenty20 format by scheduling three international matches next season.

In a schedule to be formally announced today, Australia will play a Twenty20 match against New Zealand in Sydney and further games against South Africa in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Australia has never held more than two international Twenty20 matches in a summer but officials are keen to milk the game's new cash cow after coming up empty-handed from the Indian Premier League.

The long-running tri-series one-day format has been axed, replaced by five 50-over matches against both New Zealand and South Africa, each for different trophies.

Australia will start the summer with Tests against New Zealand in Brisbane and Adelaide followed by much-anticipated showdowns with South Africa in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

Brisbane has lobbied strongly for a South African Test for many years but Perth, with its high volume of South African expatriates, has won out.

The third Test against South Africa in Sydney will start on January 3, a day later than usual, to give the players extra time to recover from the Boxing Day Test.

But the current focus is on the West Indies.

Australia were robbed of a certain victory in their tour match against a Jamaican XI when rain intervened late on the final day when Australia only needed another 31 to win.

Nevertheless, Ricky Ponting's men were satisfied with their hit-out, with Stuart MacGill taking 3-50 and 4-79 and Simon Katich showing his worth as a back-up spinner with 2-51 and 4-15.

Ponting hit an unbeaten 20 in the second innings before the rain came.

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