The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) today announced the international cricket schedule for the 2005 domestic cricket season.

England will play a two-match npower Test Match series against Bangladesh at the start of the summer and will contest the Ashes against Australia in a five-match npower Test Series at the end of the summer.

The Friday start to the second npower Test Match against Bangladesh at Durham allows for an extra day’s rest between the back-to-back Test matches.

Kevin Peake, npower Head of Brand said, ‘An England versus Australia npower Test Match series is always a highlight of the cricket calendar. Next year’s npower Test Match series against Bangladesh provides a further landmark, as not only is it their first series in England but it means that we have sponsored England matches against all Test playing nations in the world.’

In between the two npower Test Series, England will play Bangladesh and Australia in the ten-match NatWest Series and this will be immediately followed by a further three one-day games against Australia in The NatWest Challenge.

In advance of The NatWest Series, England will play a warm-up game against Hampshire at The Rose Bowl, after which they will play Australia in the NatWest International Twenty20 match at the same venue. The game will be sponsored by NatWest as part of its celebrations of 25 years of involvement in cricket.

Steve Day, Head of NatWest Brand Strategy, commented: ‘We are absolutely delighted to have secured this title sponsorship of what must surely be one of cricket’s most important games since the inception of One-Day International cricket back in 1971. NatWest has been a great innovator in the game since 1981 when it started its One-Day Cricket sponsorship and this new title sponsorship provides us with a great opportunity to be associated with a groundbreaking cricket event and will provide serious focus to our 25th Anniversary activities.’

For further information contact ECB Corporate Affairs on 020 7432 1200