Australia land in UAE, ready for ‘extreme’ challenge
DUBAI: Australia’s acting coach Steve Rixon believes the extreme heat they will face in the United Arab Emirates when playing Afghanistan and Pakistan will be the perfect preparation for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
That heat was immediately apparent to the squad when they landed in the UAE early on Wednesday with captain Michael Clarke tweeting: “Just landed in Dubai. 5.30 am and it’s 37 degrees Celsius Think we are in for a hot couple of weeks.”
But Rixon, who has taken over the head coach’s duties for the first part of a tour while Mickey Arthur plans for next month’s World Twenty20, told reporters the hot weather was a positive rather than a negative.
“It’s a bonus for us to be playing here as it’s important for us to be getting miles in the legs (ahead of the World Twenty20) and this is the best place to be doing it,” he said.
“Whatever happens here will be a very big stepping stone to us being successful in Sri Lanka. If we get through this, Sri Lanka will seem like a holiday resort.”
The tour matches are taking place in the UAE because neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan is deemed safe enough to host international cricket.
Australia face Afghanistan for the first time in a one-day international in Sharjah on Saturday before playing three ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The high daytime temperatures mean the 50-over matches will start at 6pm local time (1400 GMT) and finish at 1.45 am, creating the unusual contradiction of a one-day international spanning two days.
Rixon said the match times would mean a change in routine for the squad.
“It’s one of the few times in my 30-odd years involved in international cricket where we will be looking to keep players up at night to make sure they get their (sleeping) patterns right,” he said.
“We won’t see the sun and we’re in night cricket mode, albeit it will still be warm and the idea is to get into some sort of pattern so that when the first match comes around the players have adjusted their body clocks so that it works for them. Breakfast will probably be between 11 and 1 every day.”
The match with Australia will be only the second time Afghanistan have faced one of cricket’s established teams after losing to Pakistan in February.
“I’m sure they will go into the match with a ‘we’ve got nothing to lose’ attitude which is an outstanding way to play it,” said Rixon.
“But we are also going into it as a side that’s been number one (in the ODI rankings) for a long time and we want to get back there.
“We’ve only just got hold of some (video) of them recently and I’ll be having a little look at some of that,” he added.