SYDNEY: Darren Lehmann promised Australia won’t be under-prepared for their tour of Bangladesh after a pay dispute left them temporarily unemployed -- and said the enforced break may have even done them good.
But the coach said he would be sure to put his 14-man squad through their paces at a one-week training camp in tropical Darwin, before they leave for the two-Test tour next Friday.
The camp represents the first formal cricket environment for Australia’s top internationals since they were booted out of the ICC Champions Trophy in June.
Since then, they were among about 230 players who were technically unemployed for more than a month over a long-running pay dispute, which was finally resolved last week.
But despite having only a week to prepare for their first Test tour of Bangladesh in more than a decade, Lehmann said the disruption was not a concern.
“Until you get there you don’t know, but we’re squeezing enough in this next week, and guys have been doing stuff with their [home] states,” Lehmann told the official Australian cricket website late Thursday.
“Even through the MoU [pay negotiations] they were training and preparing as though they were playing.
“So in terms of fitness, they are probably ahead of the game, they’re really strong and fit which is really pleasing.
“Now it’s just getting their skills up to the required level before we leave.”
Lehmann said the break from playing and touring had even benefited some players by refreshing them mentally and physically heading into the Bangladesh tour.
“The break’s been good for some of them, they’ve been at the back of a long summer with a lot of travel in the schedule so sometimes a refreshed mindset is really important,” Lehmann said. “They’ve all come in really excited to get going again.”
Lehmann added: “The Darwin camp wickets are very similar to what we’ll get in Bangladesh -- they’re low and they’re slow, and they will spin.
“In terms of conditions and the heat and humidity that we’ll face when we get there, it’s great preparation especially for those who have come out of winter in the southern states [of Australia].
“I think we’ll be fine, we’ve got a lead-up two-day game on a wicket which will be very similar to what we encounter for the first Test then we’ve got training sessions before that Test starts as well.”
Australia play Tests in Dhaka from Aug 27-31 and Chittagong from Sept 4-8, their first in Bangladesh since 2006.
Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2017