Aussie tour to end 24-year Pakistan absence

Pakistan Cricket Board confirm dates for a three-Test tour, plus white-ball matches, that will be Australia's first cricket on Pakistani soil since 1998

Australia are set to end their 24-year absence from Pakistan after dates were announced for a whirlwind month-long tour next March that takes in three Tests and four limited overs matches.

The Pakistan Cricket Board today announced a schedule featuring Test matches in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore, which will also host three ODIs and a one-off T20 international that follow.

The confirmation of the Australian tour comes just days before the two countries are scheduled to meet in a T20 World Cup semi-final in Dubai (1am Friday AEDT).

Next year's tour will mark the first time Australia have played in the country since late 1998, when a three-Test, three-ODI tour featured current coach Justin Langer as part of the Test playing XI and saw Andrew Symonds make his ODI debut.

Qantas Tour of Pakistan 2022

March 3-7: First Test, Karachi

March 12-16: Second Test, Rawalpindi

March 21-25: Third Test, Lahore

March 29: First ODI, Lahore

March 31: Second ODI, Lahore

April 2: Third ODI, Lahore

April 5: Only T20, Lahore

All matches to be broadcast in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja called the three-Test series a "connoisseurs delight".

"It pleases me no end that we'll be engaged in a three-Test match series, connoisseurs delight," Raja said in a statement.

"Australia are one of the high-performing sides and them playing in our backyard for the first time after a gap of 24 years will be a special treat for the fans.

"Likewise, it will be a great opportunity for the Australia cricketers to not only play at our iconic venues but also feel and enjoy the respect, love and hospitality that this great country offers, something which most of their previous generation of cricketers missed out by playing offshore."

Current Test captain Tim Paine and national selection chair George Bailey both featured in a World XI that played three T20s in the country in mid-2017 as Pakistan began opening up to world cricket again.

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said the organisation would "continue to work closely over the coming months to finalise the necessary operations, logistics, security and COVID-19 protocols".

"The safety and welfare of our players and staff remains our number one priority, and we will continue to work with the PCB and relevant agencies to ensure that appropriate and sufficient arrangements are put in place for the tour."

Australia's last tour of Pakistan in 1998 was made famous when captain Mark Taylor scored an epic 334 not out in the second Test of a three-match series his side won 1-0.

Taylor's triple ton ties Bradman record

A suicide bombing in Karachi a few months before Australia's next scheduled tour in 2002 saw that series moved to Colombo and the UAE, while a planned tour in 2008 was moved after violence in the streets following the country's general elections.

The 2009 terrorist attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lanka team, and their Australian coach Trevor Bayliss, put paid to all international cricket in the country for years, and Australia played a 'Spirit of Cricket' Test series on neutral turf in England in 2010.

That series saw Steve Smith and Tim Paine debut together at Lord's.

While Australia have enjoyed considerable home success against Pakistan in recent years their record against them in the United Arab Emirates has been poor. Australia lost the 2014 series in the UAE 2-0, with captain Misbah ul Haq equalling the then-record for the fatest Test century, and again lost 1-0 in October 2018, their last away series against Pakistan, and Langer's first as coach of Australia.

Zimbabwe was the first full member nation to return to play in the country following the 2009 bus attack, when they played limited overs matches in 2015.

The country has successfully held the Pakistan Super League T20 competition in the country prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring Australians such as Shane Watson, Chris Lynn and Ben Dunk.

Confirmation of Australia's return is a major boon for Pakistan after New Zealand and England both cancelled plans to tour the country this year.

Raja said in September he felt "used and then binned" after England cancelled a white-ball tour for their men's and women's teams in October.

Pakistan had toured England at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-2020.

England's decision to cancel their tour followed the sudden withdrawal of the New Zealand team shortly before they were due to play their first match in the country in 18 years due to an "escalation in the New Zealand government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from New Zealand Cricket security advisers on the ground".

Both the England and New Zealand tours were for limited-overs formats, while Australia's tour is the first to Pakistan that will include all three formats.