Cricket Selectors consider pace as key in Pakistan

Cricket Selectors consider pace as key in Pakistan


Australia will prepare for the possibility of pace-friendly Test wickets in Pakistan as March’s tour looks increasingly likely to go ahead.

Cricket Australia’s board is expected to sign off on the tour next month, its first to Pakistan since 1998.

A pre-tour security reconnaissance of Pakistan late last year was largely positive, with players and staff given a preliminary briefing.

Players are also set to be canvassed for their individual positions on whether they will tour, with Pat Cummins admitting last week he understood if players pulled out.

But selectors are planning as if the three-match series from March 3 will go ahead, as Australia hunt their first series win in Asia since 2011.

Of particular note is that quicks have been the best-performing bowlers since international cricket returned to Pakistan in 2019.

While the sub-continent has traditionally been spin friendly, Pakistan speedsters Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah have been the best bowlers in matches there.

“We don’t have a great deal of information on what sort of wickets to expect,” chief selector George Bailey told ABC Tasmania.

“We’ve looked at a lot of their first-class cricket. Maybe counter intuitively, it seems to favour fast bowling.

“Pakistan do have a wealth of strong fast bowlers.

“A lot of our subcontinent experience has led to thinking that the spin is going to be quite handy too.

“We’re covering all bases and taking a couple of spinners and a bevy of fast bowlers just to make sure whatever conditions we do get, we’re able to adapt.”

Cameron Green’s emergence as a genuine bowling threat in the 4-0 Ashes win could still allow Australia to play Mitchell Swepson as a second spinner, given Green could play as a third quick.

The tour of Pakistan will mark Australia’s first away Test series since the 2019 Ashes, with trips to South Africa and Bangladesh postponed because of COVID-19.

The virus could still alter the team’s calendar, as AAP understands three T20s in New Zealand in March could be moved to Australia.

Arrivals in New Zealand currently must serve 10 days in quarantine.

Given the three-match T20 series lasts just four days, that would appear unlikely to go ahead.

There is some hope isolation periods could be reduced before then.

But another option being explored is to tack the T20 games onto the end of New Zealand’s tour of Australia later this month.

The two sides are due to play three ODIs between January 30 and February 5, which are likely to be played in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney due to border and logistical issues.

One T20 match is set to follow in Canberra, but it is now possible more could be added.

Those additional matches could be played before or after Sri Lanka arrive for five T20s from February 11.

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