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Thilan Samaraweera

Test squad tapping into SL knowledge

No stone left unturned by Cricket Australia as former Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera shares his knowledge

Australia have stepped up their preparations for next month's Sri Lanka tour by tapping into the knowledge of a former Test player to divulge the subcontinent island nation's inner secrets.

Thilan Samaraweera, a veteran of 81 Tests with 5,462 runs at 46.92 and 15 wickets to his name, has been employed by Cricket Australia as a consultant coach.

Samaraweera, who now lives in Melbourne, has been signed up by CA to work primarily with the next generation in the National Performance Squad and in the pathway program, with a focus on batting.

But that hasn't stopped Australia's Test squad members from tapping up the Sri Lankan for inside knowledge while he's at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.

Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges and Jackson Bird are the latest group of Australian players bound for the Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka to head to the NCC facilities to fine-tune their preparations in the Sunshine State. Spinner Stephen O’Keefe, wicketkeeper Peter Nevill and batsman Joe Burns, who lives in Brisbane, have all been regulars at the facilities while the one-day squad was winning the Caribbean tri-series.

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"We're up in Brisbane for the week to do our training here, get outdoors, have a hit on the turf and really start the preparation for Sri Lanka," Marsh said.

"I've had a hit on the spin wicket here and it's very good, very similar to what you get on the subcontinent and it was a challenging net session.

"Samaraweera was throwing a few offies as well, and it's been really good to chat to him and get a bit of an insight into the sort of conditions we'll be facing in the next couple of months.

"He's been helping with advice on how to play spin, he's good to chat about that with and get his views."

Samaraweera may not have left the greatest impression on Australian audiences – in six Tests on Australian soil he averaged less than 18 with a top score of 49 – but at home he was a rock in Sri Lanka's middle order.

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He played 45 Tests at home for the Lankans, averaging 53.84 with eight centuries and 18 fifties. He played a further 15 Tests on the subcontinent mainland, the highlight of his career coming in 2009 when he scored double-centuries against Pakistan in consecutive Tests.

Sadly for the right-hander, his lowest point soon followed, when he was shot in the left thigh when terrorists attacked Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore. He returned to Test cricket four months later, adding another five hundreds to his name before playing his last match in 2013.

With that wealth of cricket knowledge – and life experience – behind him, it's little surprise the Australians are so eager to tap into Samaraweera's expertise.

But Marsh says they will not be caught out by focusing solely on combating the long-standing Australian Achilles heel of the turning ball.

"You don't want to focus on it too much, but you know when you go to the subcontinent and those conditions that spin is going to come into play," said Marsh.

"It's about having a solid game plan, and sticking to that game plan when you get there, and backing yourself in."

Meg Lanning Steve Smith