Open-minded Aussie breaks serve

Peter Handscomb is prepared for the challenge that awaits in two-Test series

Australia might be expecting pitches more like Roland Garros than Wimbledon over the coming weeks, but talented junior tennis player cum Test batsman Peter Handscomb insists they will go into next Sunday's first Test prepared for anything Bangladesh throws up at them.

A week out from the series-opening match in Mirpur, Australia trained outdoors for the first time on tour in sapping Dhaka heat at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium's training ground out the back of the main arena.

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While an excited Bangladeshi public, who watched intently as the tourists' heavily-guarded team bus rolled in to the ground, are eager for Australia's first Test here in 11 years, cricket wasn't the only topic up for discussion in Dhaka on Sunday.

Asked about the sport that once saw him seeded in the same tournament as maverick tennis star Bernard Tomic as a teenager, Handscomb said he doesn't regret trading in his racquet for willow.

"I used to play a bit of tennis," the smiling Victorian told reporters, before confirming Roger Federer remains his favourite player. "Not as good as Bernard Tomic. 

"I still love my tennis, I go to the Aussie Open whenever I can and go see the 'Fed'.

"The decision pretty much made itself, I couldn't win tennis games anymore and I could make a few runs with the bat, so I chose that.”

Smith embracing the unknown in Dhaka

Australia are glad he did, as they ramp up preparations for a vastly improved Bangladesh outfit, who have tasted Test victory at home to England and away to Sri Lanka over the past 12 months.

As it was in the lead-in to this year's four-Test tour of neighboring India, questions over how Australia will counter surfaces that take turn from day one linger as a major talking point.

After making a name for himself on the domestic scene for his sharp footwork against the spinning ball, Handscomb was handed Baggy Green cap No.447 last summer and has since established himself as a key figure in the Test side's middle-order.

With encouraging, if not breakthrough, performances in India (a match-saving unbeaten 72 in the third Test in Ranchi the standout) now under his belt, the 26-year-old channeled his idol Federer in detailing how succeeding in alien conditions remains more a mental challenge than a technical one.

Aussies add bite to Bangladesh preparation

"I actually don't think it's a bad thing going into the subcontinent with an open mind," said Handscomb, who failed to reach double-digits just once in the four Tests against India but finished with just one half-century in the 1-2 series defeat.

"I think if you haven’t played too many games in the subcontinent, you're not too worried about how it's going to go and what it's going to do. 

"If you go in with an open mind, you can play with a bit more freedom rather than go in thinking the ball is going to do everything. 

"You're almost walking out there (after already) getting yourself out."

Instead of staying on for a second Indian Premier League stint following Australia's Test tour, Handscomb has spent three months playing for Yorkshire in county cricket's top flight.

It looked to have done him no harm after linking back with the Australia squad, as the right-hander notched a classy century in a three-day intra-squad match on their pre-tour camp in Darwin.

Handscomb shines with century in Darwin

That game might well remain Australia's only certified match-practice ahead of the first Test in Dhaka, with questions remaining over whether Fatullah, the venue for a proposed warm-up match against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI, will be suitably ready for the two-day encounter.

Team staff will visit Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium on Monday morning to inspect whether the ground has recovered from recent flooding caused by monsoonal rain.

Handscomb conceded that ideally the squad's preparation would be boosted by the match going ahead, but he doesn't see it as a major issue if it's cancelled.

"I don't think we'd be going into that first Test cold, whether the tour match goes ahead or not," he said.

"We had a great preparation up in Darwin, we managed to play a three-day game intra-squad game there. 

"I think everyone got what they needed out of it and we know obviously the BCB are doing everything they can to get the pitches up for us and whatever training we can get here, depending on the weather of course. 

"I'm sure the boys will be fine and ready to go."

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