Cricket Australia want players to have regular exposure to spin-friendly conditions as they move closer to locking in a Pakistan tour that will start a testing subcontinent stretch.
Pat Cummins’ side has been given a preliminary security briefing regarding their trip to Pakistan in March.
It is the greatest sign yet that Cricket Australia (CA) will back up its words with actions, rubber stamping the nation’s first cricket tour of Pakistan since 1998.
CA is yet to press players and staff for a final answer regarding their availability.
But that will come soon after this summer’s Ashes, with selectors already drawing up plans for who should feature in the three-Test series.
“It’s a matter of getting information out to the players and staff, giving them time to think about it and come back with questions etc,” selector Tony Dodemaide said.
“We expect that’ll play out over the next couple of weeks or so.”
A schedule squeeze could force Australia to split players between Test and white-ball squads, as has been the case in recent years.
Security arrangements, the timing of this year’s IPL, relations between Pakistan and India, bubble fatigue and the COVID-19 pandemic are set to be among several factors on players’ minds.
It shapes as a pivotal trip in several senses after Australia, boosted by their Ashes dominance, started strongly in pursuit of the next world Test championship final.
Australia’s hopes of featuring in the 2023 final may hinge on tours of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India during the next 15 months.
The side has struggled on the subcontinent in the past 10 years, while their preparation for this stretch has been poorer than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of exposure recently,” Dodemaide said, revealing plans for an Australia A tour of Sri Lanka this year.
“We’re very conscious of making sure that opportunities are there … to give our players, particularly our younger players, that exposure.
“We know that it is challenging going to the subcontinent.
“If you’re going to be an international player for a long period of time, you do have to be adaptable and not just a specialist on particular wickets.”
The problem is compounded by the SCG no longer being a spinner’s paradise, having recently scotched uncapped legspinner Mitchell Swepson’s hopes of debuting.
“I’m really keen to get to know all the groundsmen around Australia, so we can work with them more and see how we can get those varying characteristics around the country,” Dodemaide said.
“Not just on the basis of preparing players for subcontinent tours.
“Test cricket is always enhanced when there are very different conditions in different parts of the country. “