Sydney, Former Australian skipper Steve Smith is expecting the sub-continental Test tours during the next World Test Championship cycle between August 2021 and June 2023 to be a big challenge for his team.
Australia are scheduled to play 18 Tests in the two-year window, out of which eight are trips to Pakistan and Sri Lanka next year followed by India in early 2023.
“I’ve had a look at the Future Tours Programme (FTP) and it’s pretty hectic, so there’s plenty to look forward to, obviously including the Ashes and then tours to the subcontinent which, particularly in Test cricket, they challenge you physically, mentally and emotionally,” Smith told cricket.com.au.
“They’re great tours to be involved in and really test you as a player. I’m certainly looking forward to those,” added Smith.
The last time Australia won a Test series in Asia was in 2011 against Sri Lanka (1-0). Since then, they have been unable to clinch a series and have won just two out of the 17 Tests in the sub-continent.
Smith spoke positively of the World Test Championship concept and rued missing out on the inaugural final in Southampton. Australia missed out on a spot in the WTC final after four points were cut from their tally for being two overs behind in the second Test against India at Melbourne in December last year.
“I think (the WTC) is a pretty cool concept — to have more relevance in every game you play, I think is great.
“We were obviously very disappointed not to be (in the final), and over the last couple of years we talked about it being our focus of where we wanted to get to, but we fell short. So, we’ve got some work to do as a team to give ourselves the best chance to be there next time.”
Smith admitted the Covid-19 pandemic had wreaked havoc on the cricketing schedule. In the run-up to this year’s Ashes, Australia will go into the marquee clash on the back of just one Test, against Afghanistan in November. It will be their first Test appearance after the Gabba Test against India in January 19.
On the other hand, England will enter the Ashes with Tests against New Zealand (lost 0-1) and five Tests against India starting August 4 and ending on September 14.
“It’s been a bit of a bizarre year obviously, and Covid hasn’t helped a lot of situations in every industry,” observed Smith.
“But yeah, after our series against India, I think England were going to play 13 Tests to our zero, which seems a lot.
“As someone that loves Test cricket, I’d love to play as much as we can, but I’m not in control of scheduling.”
Smith is undergoing rehab for a tennis elbow injury on his left arm, which kept him out of Australia’s white-ball tours against West Indies and Bangladesh.