The Aussies have adopted a rather painful training method which saw them batting without the front pad in order to counter the vicious turn from Bangladesh pitches. Opener Matt Renshaw and Usman Khawaja who is a possibility in the XI for the opening Test had adequate batting session against the spinners without their front pads as a part of their preparation process ahead of the opening Test in Dhaka scheduled to begin from 27th August.
Former Greats like Rahul Dravid, Dean Jones, and Michael Vaughan has spoken on the benefits of practicing without the front pad. Aussie all-rounder Glenn Maxwell revealed that former Test opener Justin Langer was the one who employed the idea during his tenure as Australia’s batting coach 5 years ago.
Maxwell has used this ploy in the recent past in order to counter spin. He explained that it forced the batsman to solely rely on their bat to survive rather than think at padding up on various occasions.
“It’s probably something we did back in 2012 when ‘JL’ (Langer) was the batting coach,” Maxwell was quoted as saying by the reporters from the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Wednesday.
“We did it a little in the nets when we were in Dubai (for Australia’s pre-India tour camp earlier this year).
“I think the main thing is to basically use your bat: if you don’t have the safety of your front pad there it makes you get your leg out of the way and actually use your bat. It’s more about refining your defense and making sure you’re trusting the fact you’ll hit the ball and not hoping that your pad’s there just to save you.
“It’s more for the (spinners) that are hitting the stumps repeatedly and Bangladesh does that really well. They bowl the ball stump-to-stump and they put pressure on your defense. That’s one thing that we have worked on and will continue to work on. I’ve done a fair bit of it, I did a lot of it back home, a lot of my practice revolves around defense and expanding from there.”
The strategy was highly praised by former English batsman Kevin Pietersen who published an Email from former Indian great Rahul Dravid where he wrote to Pietersen on how to improve facing spinners.
In the middle of a slump in form for Pietersen during England’s tour of Bangladesh in 2010, he sought the help of Rahul Dravid and he advised him to face his teammates Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar at their peak without any pads on what so ever.
“One good practice is to bat against Swann and Monty with pads or with just knee pads (maybe not a day before a game!),” Dravid wrote.
“When you have no pads it will force you, sometimes painfully, to get the bat forward of the pads and will force you to watch the ball. Also, the leg will be less keen to push out without any protection. My coach(es) would tell me you shouldn’t need pads to play spin!!”
Pietersen who hopes of representing his country of birth South Africa in the future has warned the batsmen to not lung or plant their front foot on turning wickets which leads to the greater percentage of LBW dismissals.
Pietersen who played one of the greatest knocks by an overseas batsman on a turning track in India at the Wankhede Stadium in 2012 had some strong advice for the Steve Smith led Australian side ahead of the Border Gavaskar Trophy in India earlier in the year.
“Learn to play spin very quickly. If you can’t play spin, don’t even go,” the powerfully built batsman advised.
“As soon as you start planting (your front foot) like a lot of southern hemisphere batters do – dead.
“Don’t plant your front foot. Wait for the ball, engage.I always looked to score. I was always looking for a boundary every single ball.It’s about picking the length, and picking lines and getting your feet going,” Pietersen had said.
Former English skipper Michael Vaughan also recalled an incident when he was struggling with the LBW it was his mentor Brian Close who suggested to him to practice against spinners without donning the pads
“I remember one specific training session when I was struggling with an LBW problem. (Close) said the only way I would learn is to use my bat and not my pad,” Vaughan wrote in his column for the Telegraph.
“He asked for my bat and gloves. I told him they were right handed gloves (he was a left-hander) but he did not care and he went into the net at the age of 60 wearing no pads on his legs.
“He said: ‘Bat without pads, son because that way you learn to hit the ball. If you don’t then you soon end up with a broken knee cap.
‘ In a way, it did work,” Vaughan had said.
Meanwhile, the opening Test is scheduled to be staged at Dhaka from 27th August while the 2nd Test will start from 4th September at Chittagong. Despite the Aussies being favorites, a series win for Bangladesh cannot be ruled out especially after their exceptional performances of late, especially in home conditions.