The Australian Tri-Series refers to the one day international (ODI) cricket tournament held in Australia each summer, and contested by Australia and two touring teams. The series is played during the height of the Australian cricket season, in the summer months of December, January and February. The series has been the primary format for international one-day cricket throughout most of the history of ODI cricket in Australia.
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The tri-series was first held in 1979-80 and was contested every season until 2007-08. There was a hiatus from the tri-series format from 2008-09 until 2010-11, during which time Australia still played ODIs against two different touring teams, but in separate tournaments. The tri-series is scheduled to return in 2011-12.
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The concept of a three-team international series known as a tri-series in cricket originated with the World Series Cricket program sponsored by Kerry Packer. Packer was keen to exploit what he saw as strong interest in ODI cricket, and staged long tri-series amongst teams from Australia, the West Indies, and the World in the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons. These tournaments have never been awarded either One Day International or List A status.
When the World Series Cricket schism ended in 1979-80, the tri-series format was retained. Throughout its existence, the tournament was held as a series of One Day Internationals, featuring a round-robin played amongst the three teams, followed by a finals series played between the top two. The current format, as well as the most common format over the years, is that each team plays each other four times in the round-robin, followed by a final, which is decided by a best-of-three series (with the third match played only if necessary), for a total of fourteen or fifteen ODIs played through the summer.
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