Scorching Pakistan series means Australian bats will fly at night
London: Michael Clarke`s one-day squad has spent the past three days in the north-east of England trying to stay warm and dry in dire weather. That will be the least of the players` concerns when they arrive in the UAE where temperatures stretch to well in excess of 40 degrees.
Australia`s three one-day internationals against Pakistan - two in Sharjah, one in Abu Dhabi - have been set down for a 6 p.m. start to bypass the heat.
According to a leading Australian daily, the catch is the scheduled finish - almost 2 a.m., a time usually dedicated to the pillow, not the willow, or for some, a late-night kebab rather than post-match rehab.
The itinerary, announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board has created consternation with the Australian players` union, which was already troubled about the heat and now has safety concerns about the playing hours.
Former Australian batsman Dean Jones argues the early-morning finish is a pragmatic solution for climatic and broadcasting reasons.
``I think it`s pretty wise,`` said Jones, who played one-day cricket for Australia at Sharjah.
He added: ``They mightn`t get that many people there anyway because it`s that hot. Obviously the major problem with playing there and that time is the heat. They`re trying to look after the players. I think we`ve got to just get over it and play.``
Jones remembers well the Test Australia played against Pakistan at Sharjah almost a decade ago, with Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne starring, and the temperature edging above 50 degrees. Hayden, at the time, described it as batting in an oven.
Jones himself famously battled scorching, oppressive conditions in playing one of the greatest Test innings by an Australian in the second tied Test at Chennai in 1987.
With the urging of captain Allan Border, he batted on despite the onset of dehydration, diarrhoea and vomiting to accumulate 210 in suffocating heat and humidity before being rushed to hospital afterwards. Jones lost seven kilograms during the innings and it took him nine months to regain the weight.
He insists, though, that the hottest conditions he has experienced have been in the UAE.
Cricket Australia will send an advance party to the country next week after the one-day tour of England winds up with the fifth match at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Australian Cricketers` Association boss Paul Marsh, meanwhile, has made clear his reservations about the heat during the August-September period in the region, as well as the early-morning finish.