Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has given the strongest indication yet that Australia will play two Tests in Bangladesh later this year.
Australia have not played in Bangladesh since Ricky Ponting’s team toured there in 2006 and, outside major tournaments, the two nations have played just two ODI series against each other in Darwin (2008) and Dhaka (2011) since then.
Australia was scheduled to play two Tests and a tour match in Dhaka and Chittagong in October 2015, but the tour was postponed due to security concerns.
But after England toured the Asian nation late last year without incident, having been given an unprecedented level of security, Sutherland is confident Australia will return in August and September this year, according to a report published on Cricket Australia.
“I think they’re quite high,” Sutherland told a radio station of the chances Australia would tour Bangladesh in 2017.
“What we saw at the end of last year was the England team tour Bangladesh and we saw very strong security around the team. We sent our head of security Sean Carroll over to observe for seven to 10 days, just to get a little bit of comfort on the systems and processes that are in place.
“I suppose anything can happen between now and then and we continue to monitor what happens in Bangladesh, but we work on the assumption that we’re going to play and we start to plan accordingly.
“We certainly get a great deal of comfort from the way the security measures were put in place by the Bangladesh government in conjunction with the cricket board over there.
“At the moment, I would be assuming that we would be playing two Tests over there. They’re tentative dates around August or September, I would think.”
Australia’s departure for Bangladesh in 2015 was delayed just 48 hours before they were due to fly out following security advice received from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
A week later, Sutherland announced that the tour had been postponed indefinitely following information gleaned from DFAT, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and CA’s internal security officials, who were working closely with the BCB and Bangladesh authorities in Dhaka.
CA subsequently decided to also withdraw Australia men’s team from the ICC Under-19 World Cup that was staged in Bangladesh in early 2016, with Australia the only Test-playing nation absent from the tournament that was won by the West Indies. While hopeful the tour would go ahead this year, Sutherland said the safety of CA’s players and staff was the top priority.
“The fundamental is that safety comes first … and we’ll make those judgements accordingly,” he said. “But at the same time we have made a decision in the past to postpone a tour of Bangladesh and we were the only team to not send a team to the Under-19 World Cup.
“So while there’s pressure for us to get back on the horse, so to speak, and travel to Bangladesh, we won’t compromise anything in … getting to a level of satisfaction that the security measures are appropriate and at the level we need and want.”
If the postponed Test series was rescheduled for August-September (when all Test nations have a break in the schedule that was originally to be filled by the now defunct Champions League), it means Australia could face around two months on the subcontinent immediately prior to the 2017-18 Ashes summer.
Australia will play four Tests in India in February and March and they are also scheduled to play an ODI series in India in October 2017 before England arrives down under for their Ashes defence. If the Bangladesh series goes ahead as expected, the Australians will have played their most recent six Tests heading into the Ashes on spin-friendly Asian pitches, where they have traditionally struggled.