Australia’s batsmen are putting great emphasis on their defensive game in the lead-up to the two Tests against Bangladesh, so much that even a batsman as aggressive as Glenn Maxwell wants to first make sure his block is in perfect order.
The decision was made in the expectation that Bangladesh’s bowlers will attack by bowling a stump-to-stump line and, to counter it, Australia have begun batting in the nets without their front pad on. It is a tactic they had experimented with during Justin Langer’s tenure as batting coach in 2012.
“I think the main thing is to basically use your bat,” Maxwell explained. “If you don’t have the safety of your front pad, it makes you get your leg out of the way and actually use your bat. I think it is more about refining your defence and making sure you trust the fact that you can hit the ball and not hoping that your pads are there just to save you.
“It is more about guys who are hitting the stumps regularly and Bangladesh do that really well. They bowl stump to stump and put pressure on your defence so I suppose that’s one thing we will work on. I did a lot of it back home. A lot of my practice revolves around defence and expanding from there. I haven’t done so much of it since I have been here but I am sure I will get a chance before the game starts.”
Maxwell said Australia will be wary of Mustafizur Rahman and Shakib Al Hasan. He had a chance to analyse Mustafizur at the Indian Premier League in 2016 and believes that despite the drop in pace, the young bowler remains one to watch.
“Mustafizur is obviously the exceptional bowler we faced during the IPL during his breakthrough season. I suppose his pace dropped off as he played a bit more Test cricket. He is still an outstanding bowler who has the ability to swing it and has an unbelievable change-up slower ball.
“He is not your conventional left-arm seamer. He is obviously got a very flexible wrist with which he can flick it in the last moment. It looks exactly the same either it is his bumper or his slower ball. It is a hard thing to pick up.
“The same thing with Shakib; he is a really experienced player. He has been the No 1 allrounder in the world for a while. He is an excellent cricketer. We have to play these guys really well to negate their influence in the Test series and make sure we are staying on top of the game.”
Against Bangladesh, Maxwell will look to follow the plans that helped him score his maiden Test century, against India in Ranchi, earlier this year.
“I don’t think I will change too much from what I did in India. I thought I had really good plans during the Test series against them. I will employ probably something similar, basically backing my defense and trying to revolve my game around that.”
“It is basically going to be batting long periods of time and making sure that when we do bat those long periods of time we are making big hundreds,” he said.
The first of two Tests in the series begins on Sunday in Mirpur.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84