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England announce 2008 dates

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The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced the dates for the 2008 international fixtures against New Zealand and South Africa and for the first time the programme includes a Wednesday start for an npower Test match.

The third npower Test against South Africa at Edgbaston will start on Wednesday July 30 2008.

John Carr, director of England cricket, said: “One of the scheduling parameters we had to deal with was that the 2008 season has to end in early September to enable both England and South Africa the opportunity to travel to the ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan.

“The 2008 season will include a Wednesday start as well as four Thursday starts and two Friday starts for npower Test matches.

"In a busy summer we feel that this sequence gives the players the maximum opportunity for rest and recuperation.”

John Perera, the ECB commercial director, added: “With the ever increasing desire to shorten tours it means that the Wednesday start option had to be examined and we are grateful to npower and our broadcast partners - Sky Sports, BBC Radio and Five - for their approval.

"The ECB will be carefully monitoring the cricketing and commercial impact of a Wednesday start."

The New Zealand international series consists of three npower Test matches, one NatWest International Twenty20 and five NatWest one-day internationals.

The South Africa international series involves four npower Test matches, one NatWest International Twenty20 and five NatWest one-day internationals.

2008 Fixtures:

NEW ZEALAND

npower Test series

May 15-19: 1st Test (Lord's)

May 23-27: 2nd Test (Old Trafford)

June 5-9: 3rd Test (Trent Bridge)

NatWest Series

June 13: International Twenty20 (Old Trafford)

June 15: 1st ODI (Riverside)

June 18: 2nd ODI (Edgbaston)

June 21: 3rd ODI (Bristol)

June 25: 4th ODI (Brit Oval)

June 28: 5th ODI (Lord's)

SOUTH AFRICA

npower Test series

July 10-14: 1st Test (Lord's)

July 18-22: 2nd Test (Headingley Carnegie)

July 30-Aug 3: 3rd Test (Edgbaston)

Aug 7-11: 4th Test (Brit Oval)

NatWest Series

Aug 20: International Twenty20 (Riverside)

Aug 22: 1st ODI (Headingley Carnegie) floodlit

Aug 26: 2nd ODI (Trent Bridge) floodlit

Aug 29: 3rd ODI (Brit Oval)

Aug 31: 4th ODI (Lord's)

Sept 3: 5th ODI (Cardiff) floodlit

DOMESTIC FINALS

July 26 (27 res. day): Twenty20 Cup Finals Day (The Rose Bowl)

Aug 16 (17 res. day): Friends Provident Trophy Final (Lord's)