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Australia's one-pad preparation

The potentially painful training method some Aussies have adopted ahead of the first Test

Australia have adopted a left-field – and potentially painful – training method in a bid to counter an expected spin barrage against Bangladesh.

Opener Matthew Renshaw and first Test hopeful Usman Khawaja have both spent time batting to spinners without their front pads on in preparation for the first Test in Dhaka.

The likes of Rahul Dravid, Michael Vaughan and Dean Jones have all spoken of the benefits practicing without pads, and allrounder Glenn Maxwell revealed ex-Test opener Justin Langer had promoted the method during his stint as Australia's batting coach five years ago.


It's a ploy Maxwell has used in recent years to improve his defence against spin bowling, explaining that it forces batsmen to rely solely on their bat to survive.

"It's probably something we did back in 2012 when 'JL' (Langer) was the batting coach," Maxwell told reporters at 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.

Rahul Dravid - on Kevin Pietersen Advice

"It's more about refining your defence 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 do that really well. They bowl the ball stump-to-stump and they put pressure on your defence. 

"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 defence and expanding from there."

Matthew Renshaw bats with one pad // Getty
Matthew Renshaw bats with one pad // Getty

The strategy came in for heavy attention after former England star Kevin Pietersen published an email from Test great Rahul Dravid in his 2014 book, KP: The Autobiography.

In the midst of a form slump on England's 2010 tour of Bangladesh, Pietersen had asked Dravid for advice and in response the Indian suggested he face teammates Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, two spinners at the height of their powers, with no pads on at all.

"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!!"

Usman Khawaja bats with just one pad on in Dhaka // Getty
Usman Khawaja bats with just one pad on in Dhaka // Getty

Pietersen has often warned of the dangers of batsmen 'lunging' or 'planting' their front foot on turning wickets, which can lead to a greater chance of lbw and bat-pad dismissals.

Quick single: Maxwell feels the heat in Dhaka

Ahead of Australia's four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy series earlier this year, Pietersen, a major factor in England's historic 2012 Test series win over India, had some strong words for Steve Smith's men.

"Learn to play spin very quick. 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 length, and picking lines and getting your feet going."

Preparation has been spot on, says Agar

In a 2015 obituary for his former mentor Brian Close, Vaughan recounted how the England and Yorkshire legend had shown him first-hand how to face bowling with no pads on in an attempt to correct an lbw issue.

"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 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."

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Liton Das, Taskin Ahmed, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mominul Haque.


27-31 August First Test, Dhaka


4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong