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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 08:47 GMT
Targets for 2006
By Martin Gough

BBC Sport looks at the international schedule over the next 12 months and asks what each of the 10 Test-playing nations need to do to be considered successful.


Ricky Ponting's Australia side have their eyes fixed on the Ashes
Their home-and-away series with South Africa will be hard-fought throughout, with three back-to-back Tests in March.

Before that comes the annual home one-day series, with Sri Lanka the third team, and they make their first ever trip to Bangladesh in April.

But thoughts are already drifting to November, when England arrive for what could be the most eagerly-anticipated Test series in cricket history.

Pass mark: Ashes victory


Australia will not be complacent when they tour Bangladesh after suffering an upset one-day defeat last June.

Hopefully, after five months away from the international circuit, the Tigers will have a series against Sri Lanka to warm up, and to try a new Dhaka ground.

Sri Lanka provide the Tigers' best hopes of securing their second Test win but coach Dav Whatmore will keep the focus on long-term improvement.

Pass mark: More wins in one-day matches


Michael Vaughan
England must win this summer to prepare for Australia
The eyes of the public are already on the winter's Ashes series but England could rank as only fourth in the world by then if they are not careful.

The March Test series in India will provide at least as stern a trial as the recent trip to Pakistan and there are then seven one-day games to play.

They will struggle to beat Australia without confidence from home wins over Sri Lanka and Pakistan this summer.

Pass mark: Win both home Test series


Rahul Dravid's new-look side has a brutal first six months lined up, with 10 Tests and 17 one-day internationals.

There is pride at stake against England, and a West Indies tour will provide a great opportunity to plan an assault on next year's World Cup.

But there is only one mark of success in Indian cricket - they must repeat last year's win in Pakistan or coach Greg Chappell could pay with his job.

Pass mark: Beat Pakistan in Test series


If Pakistan really have their sights set on joining Test cricket's top table they must become more consistent.

And this year provides them with an ideal opportunity as they make trips to Sri Lanka and England then host West Indies in December.

However, whatever the team's long-term ambitions, their fans have a more focussed approach: if they lose to India they will be seen as failures.

Pass mark: Beat India in Test series


A packed calendar involves trips to Australia, Bangladesh and England, plus visits by Pakistan in April and South Africa at the end of the year.

In a country where the popularity of the sport exploded after the 1996 World Cup victory, the one-day segments of those series will be paramount.

An ageing side needs to find and develop young stars both in batting and bowling to compete in 2007.

Pass mark: Home and away one-day wins


In the third year of John Bracewell's time as coach, the Black Caps' focus seems to firmly be on one-day cricket.

But they have little opportunity to practice after the end of their domestic season, with three Tests in South Africa then five months off.

They must use series against Sri Lanka and West Indies to continue blooding younger players, then prepare for the ICC Champions Trophy.

Pass mark: Win two of four ODI series


Andrew Hall and Graeme Smith
South Africa could focus on one-day success in 2006
This could prove a difficult year to regain ground in the Test rankings and Graeme Smith's men may be content to continue their recent one-day form.

Australia should dominate. New Zealand, who visit in April, have never won a Test series in the Republic but a tough trip to Sri Lanka looms in August.

More realistic targets are the VB Series in February and two other one-day series before the ICC Trophy.

Pass mark: Win an away ODI series


They look to defend the ICC Champions Trophy in India in October but, that apart, the Caribbean side have not won a one-day series in three years.

There are opportunities to rectify that in New Zealand in February but, more significantly, when India visit in June at the end of a gruelling run of games.

They must also end bickering between players and officials to stand a chance of winning the World Cup at home.

Pass mark: One-day series victory


Officials insist Zimbabwe will continue to play a full programme even though player strikes and defections have left them with a third-choice XI.

Scheduled trips to the West Indies and Pakistan, plus the visit of South Africa, all have asterisks next to them until off-field troubles are solved.

The return of captain Tatenda Taibu would be a start but even ICC Champions Trophy qualification looks unlikely.

Pass mark: Win a game, any game

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