Australia, it was worth the wait, now savour it
Cricket coughed and spluttered, poked and prodded and stumbled along for months ... but the wait was worth it.
The schedule confirmed on Wednesday should deliver an exceptional summer which could lift the mood of the entire sporting nation as it reaches a merciful end-of-year holiday it has never deserved more.
Only a few months ago a MCG Boxing Day Test was considered a one out of 10 chance of happening by well informed judges close to the action.
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Adelaide was on standby to host the first two Tests of the summer and considered almost certain to do so.
But out of the gloom emerged a sliver of hope and now - finally - here it comes, the Test match Victoria deserves after the brutal restrictions of their COVID-cursed winter, one which could feature 25,000 fans per day.
Cricket was often criticised for not handling its schedule with as much cut-through as rugby league and AFL but it's a lot easier telling the Wests Tigers and Carlton what to do than striking a deal with India.
The schedule has thrown up all sorts of juicy discussion points.
The temptation is to say Australia should gain a spring-loaded start in the first Test in Adelaide because they have never lost a day-night Test.
But let's not say that too loudly.
India love Adelaide where they have two wins, a loss and a draw from their last four starts.
And they had a supreme attack for the conditions with three fast bowlers who all averaged in the 'teens' per Test wicket last year.
Jasprit Bumrah, who slam dunked Australia two years ago, and the skilful Mohammed Shami, could be a nightmare under lights in Adelaide.
India famously beat Australia last time they met in a series in Australia two summers ago.
But Steve Smith and David Warner were missing due to ball tampering bans and Australia was in turmoil.
That's not the case any more. Both nations are near the peak of their powers. This could be a series for the ages.
Perth was unlucky to miss a Test and their snubbing sends a worrying message to state governments that spending up big on a stadium guarantees you nothing.
Perth's newly constructed Optus Stadium may lack character but it has an exceptionally decent Test deck and it's sad that it will not host a major game this summer.
The snubbing of Perth has put Brisbane on notice that it can take nothing for granted.
The Gabba traditionally launches the series but there are benefits in having the last Test against such a quality side, particularly if the scoreline is close.
Brisbane may well host the competition decider and it will fall in school holidays which would add to it's appeal.
Originally published as Australia, it was worth the wait, now savour it