Australia tour to Pakistan: Pace attack could be boosted

Pat Cummins with Josh Hazlewood

Australia are likely to include a raft of pace bowlers in their squad for the scheduled tour to Pakistan in March.

Cricket Australia are expected to sign off on the tour imminently for what would be the Test side’s first matches in Pakistan since 1998.

While pre-tour security reconnaissance in 2021 was largely positive, Australia captain Pat Cummins said last week he’d understand if individual players pull out.

Nevertheless, the selectors are continuing with their plans as if the series will go ahead, with the first of three Tests scheduled to start on March 3.

While wickets on the subcontinent traditionally carry spin, quicks like Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah have been the most successful bowlers there in the recent past.

“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 counterintuitively, it seems to favour fast bowling.

“Pakistan do have a wealth of strong fast bowlers.

Spin and fast bowlers strong options

“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 bevvy of fast bowlers just to make sure whatever conditions we do get, we’re able to adapt.”

The tour of Pakistan will be Australia’s first away series since the Ashes in 2019, after tours to South Africa and Bangladesh were postponed last year.

That said, Australia’s calendar could yet change as the three T20s in New Zealand – also scheduled for March – could be moved to Australia.

Whilst being scheduled for New Zealand, arrivals there will need to serve 10 days in quarantine, meaning three matches in four days would be difficult to accommodate.

Discussions have also taken place about fitting those T20s into New Zealand’s tour of Australia, which starts later this month.

The two sides are scheduled to face off in three one-day internationals between January 30 and February 5.

Sri Lanka then arrive in Australia five T20s from February 11, before they depart for Pakistan for the Test series.