Australia's tour of Pakistan is 'reasonably well down the track'
National selector George Bailey says the two boards are "still working through some of the minor details"
No Australian player has yet indicated to the selectors that they will be unwilling to tour Pakistan, as the trip awaits the final sign-off between the boards.
Australia are due to tour for three Tests, three ODIs and a single T20I from early March in what will be their first visit to the country since 1998. It will also be Australia's first overseas Test series during the pandemic, having not played the format away from home since the 2019 Ashes.
George Bailey, the national selector, said that the squads would be named once the final approval comes through but as things stand he is expecting to be able to pick from a full roster of first-choice names.
"I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour. Once that gets the formal tick of approval, we'll announce the squad but we're reasonably well down the track," Bailey said. "The two [security] briefings that I've sat in on, the security sounds very, very robust."
There are expected to be minor changes to the itinerary of the tour, which is scheduled to start from March 3, but not, ESPNcricinfo understands, a change to the venues or their allocation. As it stands, the three Tests are to be played in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi and a decision on crowd attendances will be taken closer to the time.
Last week, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Associated Todd Greenberg said he did not expect any withdrawals from the tour.
"I think everyone will go," he told SEN. "It's a very significant tour with three Test matches. Talking to players, they want to test themselves against the very best in the world and they want to play in different conditions."
An indication of the planning for the trip came with David Warner and Mitchell Marsh being rested from the T20I series against Sri Lanka which runs from February 11 to 20. Marsh was called into the Ashes squad as cover after Travis Head tested positive for Covid-19 and is now set to offer another batting-allrounder option in Pakistan alongside Cameron Green.
Jhye Richardson will not be part of the tour as a cautious approach is taken to his workload but after the 4-0 Ashes series victory there will not be many holes to fill - spin may not be as big of a factor as it will be in Sri Lanka later in the year and in India in 2023 - although there may be a debate about players who offer specialist skills for the subcontinent. Glenn Maxwell's name is again gaining some traction.
Although the postponement of the New Zealand limited-overs tour to Australia has freed a little space over the next couple of weeks, it will be a hectic few months for multi-format players. However, Bailey insisted there was no issue with any of the players who have put their names forward for the IPL auction next month. That won't include Mitchell Starc, but the list does feature Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
The IPL is expected to begin on March 27 which is while Australia will still be in Pakistan. ESPNcricinfo understands that one option being considered for players who end up with an IPL deal and are also on the tour is to briefly return home to Australia before heading to India.
"Absolutely it's tough for the multi-format guys to work out that balance of where they do get time to physically replenish their energy reserves," Bailey said. "Particularly for fast bowlers [around] when they get the time to make sure that they fit and strong and able to deal with the workload. But that's part and parcel of the modern cricketers' life.
"It continues to be a tournament that offers a huge amount for players both from a learning perspective and I don't think the monetary side of things can be discounted. For a reasonably brief period of work the pay day is pretty enormous for a certain percentage of them.
"But I do think more so than that is the opportunity to play with the best players around the world and to have access to a different range of coaches. I think that's a terrific opportunity."
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo