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Asian conquest Smith's top priority

Captain wants Australian team to show they learned the lessons from defeat in India

If the significance of falling short in their quest to claim a third Test series win in India hadn’t been sufficiently laid bare, Steve Smith made it abundantly clear with the suggestion Australia’s Test tour of Bangladesh is the first step towards their next chance of achieving that elusive glory in modern cricket's epicentre.

While the traditional litmus test of an Australian skipper has typically centred on how they've fared against the old enemy, Smith’s desire to conquer India on their home turf would appear to burn as bright as his ambition for tasting Ashes success.

As the skipper first revealed to cricket.com.au earlier this month, Ashton Agar's selection over incumbent second spinner Steve O'Keefe for the Qantas Tour of Bangladesh was made with their next Test series in India (slated four years from now in 2021) in mind.

Quick Single: Smith's praise for Agar the batsman

O'Keefe, who in February snared the finest figures by a foreign spinner in India in the first Test in Pune, was a surprise omission for the two-Test series in Bangladesh as the National Selection Panel (of which Smith is not a member) opted instead for Agar, nearly a decade his junior.

Asked if his NSW teammate O'Keefe could consider himself unfortunate to have missed selection for Australia's first Test tour of the South Asian republic in 11 years, Smith opened up on how he interpreted the decision.

Best bits from Aussie intra-squad match

"It is unlucky," the 28-year-old told a packed Bangladeshi media contingent on Saturday at Dhaka's Sher-e Bangla National Stadium, the venue for next Sunday's first Test.

"He did very well in the first Test match in India and had some contributions throughout in the other three Test matches as well.

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"We just see it as a bit of a time to get us someone new into the group.

"Ashton has been around the group for a quite a while now, he's worked on his art and he's becoming a lot more consistent in what he's doing. It'd be fantastic to see him get an opportunity.

Smith backs Khawaja, Agar to make Test returns

"It's four years until we next go to India which is always a tough tour for us and one that I particularly as captain want to win (at some stage) throughout my tenure.

Quick Single: Agar impresses in bid to join Lyon's pride

"It's an opportunity for Ashton to get some experience in these conditions and hopefully improve, with an eye to the next time we go to India as well."

The addition of 23-year-old leg-spinner Mitch Swepson, a replacement for injured spearhead Mitchell Starc, over last summer's leading Sheffield Shield slow bowler Jon Holland to the touring party suggests the Panel are firmly on the same page as Smith.

Quick Single: Six questions ahead of Bangladesh Tests

After impressing in an intra-squad hit-out in Darwin this week, Agar looks to have the inside running to partner No.1 tweaker Nathan Lyon should Australia opt for a two-spinner, two-seamer attack, a blend they've generally favoured on the subcontinent in recent times.

Given the International Cricket Council's Future Tour Program doesn't see Australia playing another Test in Asia until 2019 following the Bangladesh series, the second Test in Chittagong could conceivably be the last time Smith's side plays two specialist spin bowlers in the same XI for more than 18 months.

According to the current FTP – which is subject to change, particularly if plans for a Test championship materialise – Australia's next Test tour to the subcontinent will be 'away' to Pakistan in March 2019.

Quick Single: Swepson ready for Bangladesh challenge

Getting some miles into the fingers of Australia's next crop of spinners therefore looms as a prudent ploy as Australia eye improved showings on spin-friendly surfaces and, ultimately, in India in four years’ time.

Pune was Smith's first and only Test victory on the subcontinent in 11 tries, despite being one of just five Australians to hold a career batting average of more than 50 in Asian Tests, and the prolific right-hander insists it’s a record he dearly wants to improve.

Quick Single: How the Aussies fared in Darwin

"We'd certainly like to have done a lot better on the subcontinent that's for sure," said Smith, who's also notched tons in four of the last five Tests he's played in Asia.

"Now (the Bangladesh tour) is an opportunity for us to try and change that.

"I thought in India we did some things really well for little bits of the game, we probably just needed to do them for a little bit longer and a little more consistently.

"This gives us another great opportunity to showcase our skills and show what we learned over there."

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.


22-23 August Tour match, TBC


27-31 August First Test, Dhaka


4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong