Australia captain Tim Paine said he will need to use his fast bowlers in short spells in the test series against Pakistan if they are to defy hard, slow pitches and high temperatures in the United Arab Emirates.
With injuries to regular fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, Australia have included a uncapped duo Brendan Doggett and Michael Neser in their squad and recalled veteran Peter Siddle for the two-match series next month. “It’s going to be over 40 degrees and really high humidity so we’re going to have to be clever about how we use our bowlers,” Paine told reporters.
Australia have not won a test series in Asia since 2011 and their success this time could depend on left-arm quick Mitchell Starc, who picked up 24 wickets in Sri Lanka in 2016. The 28-year-old will return to action from a foot stress injury and Paine has hinted going a little off script to bring the best out of his trump card in grinding conditions.
“I expect him to be bowling short spells and as fast as he can,” Paine said, adding, “we’re hopeful — no, we’re sure — Starcy will have a really big series, and if he does, it will go a long way towards winning it for us.”
Pakistan has hosted most of its international matches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah since 2009 when a gun and grenade attack injured six Sri Lankan players in Lahore, while killing eight Pakistanis. Australia travel to Dubai looking to rebuild after the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal which led to long bans for the nation’s two top batsmen, Steve Smith and David Warner.
Paine said a patient approach would be required to counter the conditions — something they failed to accomplish in a 2-0 trouncing by Pakistan on their last visit to the UAE in 2014.
“I think games traditionally in the UAE take a long time so we are going to have to be really patient,” he said, adding, “we have spoken about partnerships and patience and pressure, which is going to be a real key over there.”
Australia play the first test against Pakistan from 7 October in Dubai, followed by the second test at Abu Dhabi from 16 October.