'Significant concerns' over UAE one-day plan
Australia's cricketers will have "significant concerns" if they are asked to play one-day internationals against Pakistan in the extreme heat of the UAE in August. The format and location of the series has not been officially confirmed, but the UAE is believed to be Pakistan's favoured venue and the PCB director for international operations, Intikhab Alam, said last week three ODIs and three Twenty20s were likely to be played.
But August is one of the hottest months in the UAE; in Dubai, for example, the average daily high temperature during the month is 41.3C. International cricket has never been played in the country in June, July, August or September, and while the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) is open to the idea of its players being asked to play Twenty20s, because the matches could start later and avoid the daytime heat, 50-over games are the major worry.
"How wise is it to be going to a region that you know is going to get up to 45-plus at that time of year?" Paul Marsh, the ACA chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. "That's extreme heat. It's also very humid. It's of significant concern for us at the moment. The health and safety of the players needs to be at the forefront of any decision that is made."
The PCB was believed to have abandoned their plans for a Twenty20-only series, which would have mitigated the weather issue, but Marsh said his understanding was that permission was still being sought from the ICC to stage a six-match T20 series. According to ICC rules, the maximum length of a bilateral T20 series is three games, and while national boards can make proposals for longer series they cannot be played without ICC approval.
"The common-sense approach would be that six Twenty20s is going to be better than three of each because of the weather conditions," Marsh said. "We would rather see them play six Twenty20s if they have to play in the UAE because they could start later and it takes less time. But we have to wait and see what the ICC says.
"If the decision is they can't play six Twenty20s then you're faced with the question of what do you do? I'm not an expert on heat but we'll look at it from an occupational health and safety perspective. We have concerns about the health and safety of our players if they were to have to play 50-over games in those conditions."
A possible starting time of 5pm or 5.30pm has been floated for any ODIs played during the series, which would mean the matches could finish after midnight. However, Marsh said the ACA's preference remained for the series to be composed entirely of T20s.
"Five o'clock is still going to be pretty warm," he said. "At least with a T20 you could start it at eight or nine o'clock and finish at 11 or midnight and then you'd be getting out of the heat of the day. A three-hour game versus an eight-hour game is obviously the issue."
Cricket Australia also has concerns about the weather in the UAE during August. James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said last week that if the UAE was confirmed as Pakistan's preferred venue the boards would need to do everything possible to reduce the players' exposure to the extreme heat.
"It's a time of year when it is very hot and humid in the UAE," Sutherland said last Friday. "It will be hot for our players and it will be hot for their players. We would expect both countries would have concerns about that and would be doing everything they can to minimise that effect."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here