UAE spinner links up with Aussies at Lord's
Tourists call on Ahmed Raza to provide some left-arm tweakers at training ahead of second Ashes Test
12 August 2019, 12:36 AM AEST
Ahmed Raza, a left-arm orthodox spinner from the UAE, has linked up with Australia's Ashes squad at Lord's as Steve Smith prepares to confront his supposed 'weakness' in the second Test.
England have promoted left-arm tweaker Jack Leach at the expense of Moeen Ali as they seek to level the five-Test series with victory in the match that starts on Wednesday.
Moeen's struggles with bat and ball had played a part in the change but there is also a school of thought that Leach's finger spin represents the hosts' best chance of dismissing Smith cheaply despite his twin centuries in the first Test win at Edgbaston.
The former skipper's batting average against left-arm finger spin is 34.9, compared to his overall Test average of 62.96.
The devil is in the detail, given Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath and Indian Ravindra Jadeja have played a huge role in that statistic, regularly troubling Smith and his fellow Australians on the subcontinent.
The tourists had an optional session on Sunday at Lord's, their first hitout since arriving on Friday afternoon in London.
Smith and David Warner, who both enjoyed some time off in London after the first Test rather than plating in the Worcester tour game, Tim Paine and the squad's bowlers were on deck at the home of cricket.
Raza, who has played 25 ODIs and 28 Twenty20 internationals, joined local net bowlers on Sunday to help Australia prepare for the second Ashes clash.
The 30-year-old is the closest thing the tourists have to a like-for-like replica of the threat posed by Leach.
Raza is one of the UAE's most-talented bowlers, having featured in last year's T20 tournament in Canada that Smith, Warner and Peter Siddle also took part in.
Raza was named player of the tournament after helping his nation to reach the final of the 2018 Asia Cup qualifier.
Coach Justin Langer and other members of Australia's support staff had a long look on Sunday at the green Lord's pitch as they mulled whether to rejig the attack that helped to defeat England in Birmingham.
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval