Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's
Australia get warm welcome in Dubai
Test squad sweat it out in 41-degree temperatures on opening day of training ahead of Pakistan Test series
Louis Cameron in Dubai
23 September 2018, 11:46 AM AEST
Justin Langer spent his first training session with his new-look Test squad pushing his charges to their limits in extreme desert heat ahead of their series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
With the mercury soaring above 41 degrees Celsius, Australia sweated and panted through an intense three-hour training session at the International Cricket Council's headquarters in Dubai on Saturday.
Australia are more than two weeks out from their series-opener at the nearby Dubai International Cricket Stadium, but their desire to be well prepared has brought them to the Middle East early.
Opener Matthew Renshaw says the Test side will refuse to use the punishing temperatures as an excuse for another failure on the subcontinent, where Australia have won just a single Test series in eight attempts over the past decade.
"It's going to be hot, we know that," Renshaw told cricket.com.au. "We've just got to not think about it.
"It's going to be tough at times, there's going to be a few hot days. But if we are mentally prepared for this weather better than what this Pakistan team is, we'll go a long way to winning this Test series.
"We've been ... talking about the way we want to play and how we want to go about preparing and being the best prepared team in the world, especially for overseas tours like the UAE. It's about as being as well prepared as possible."
With the specialist bowlers and allrounders padding up and hitting the nets first following an extended warm-up, Langer interrupted the session and gathered squad members and local net bowlers alike into a huddle. He animatedly implored the tail-enders to bat as if a debutant (of which Australia could field as many as five for the first Test) was approaching a century at the other end.
The dogged former opener's imprint on the squad is already apparent, as was the intensity of both the newcomers and (relative) veterans of the squad.
Uncapped quicks Brendan Doggett and Michael Neser charged in for the best part of an hour, while Peter Siddle was beetroot red after his first session back following a near two-year hiatus from international cricket.
Left-arm spinner Jon Holland, who looms as Nathan Lyon's likely spin partner against Pakistan, also wheeled away in the nets as well on one of the two pristine ICC Academy cricket grounds.
Only Ashton Agar, who has stayed back for the beginning of Western Australia's JLT One-Day Cup campaign, and Travis Head (personal reasons) were missing. Both are expected to join the squad ahead of a four-day tour game against Pakistan A, beginning on Saturday.
One of only six incumbents in the 15-player squad from Australia's most recent Test against South Africa in March, Renshaw was one a number of batsmen thrown an unusual extra challenge in the nets.
Langer grabbed a few of the hundreds of empty water bottles the Aussies had guzzled down and put them on a good length outside the batters' off-stump.
"JL put a few bowling markers and bottles around where the rough would be on, say, a day-five wicket just to get that in the back of my mind when the spinners were bowling," Renshaw explained.
"It's obviously very tough on day five when the spinners are bowling into the rough. It's more of a mental thing, you don't know which one's going to turn (and) which one's going to hit the bottle.
"It's about trying to play the ball as well as you can and not have that in your mental mindset. It was quite fun - a few ricocheted off and hit me in the elbow and the stomach."
Australia topped off their competitive bat versus ball component with a light fielding session.
South African-born batter Marnus Labuschagne practiced his short leg skills, while limited-overs star Aaron Finch – also in his first Test squad – donned his helmet as well and practiced his close-in reflexes.
As the sun set on a cloudless day, Langer finally sat cross-legged with the extended squad and support staff in a large circle out on the ground for a relaxed 20-minute debrief that ended in hugs and laughter.
Qantas Tour of the UAE
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Sep 29 - Oct 2: Tour match v Pak A, Dubai
Oct 7-11: First Test, Dubai
Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi