Australia begin a two-Test series against Bangladesh on Sunday. And the Aussies could be forgiven for feeling more than a little nervous about the examination that awaits them, first in Mirpur for game one and then in Chittagong.
Their players will find conditions somewhat different to what they are used to. At home, they play on quick and bouncy wickets which allow them to play their strokes freely. In Bangladesh, however, the pitches offer a tremendous inspection of their batters’ technique.
The home bowlers will look to swing it early on, get reverse swing with the old ball and then make it spin. Arguably the latter skill is the most potent weapon to deploy against Australia. Indeed, the Bangladeshis are probably itching to get at their visitors.
Australia is a truly awful bet at the odds. That is because of the difference in conditions that they have always struggled to adapt to. In Asia, Australia has won only one of their last seven series. That transfers to just two wins in 22 Test matches on these types of wicket.
Those with decent memories will recall that Australia were humiliated in Sri Lanka only last July, losing three-zip. Their batsmen proved to be utterly hopeless against spin bowling.
They will face a stern test against the turning ball in Bangladesh, who have four spin bowlers in their squad. Shakib-al-Hasan and Mehidy Hasan are the greatest threats. These were the terrible two who wrecked England’s batting to draw a series 1-1 in October last year.
England, by the way, suffer from the same foibles as Australia when visiting Asia. They are just not used to the changes in the surfaces. If it doesn’t sound like a fair fight, remember that when Bangladesh have to go to Australia and England respectively, they are the ones flagging.
But surely Australia have been diligent and prepared properly? You’d think so wouldn’t you. Unfortunately for them their one and only chance to get match practice in Bangladesh was called off because of flooding. So they come into the first Test undercooked in the extreme. They’re like a t-bone steak which has barely had 30 second on a tepid BBQ.
If you are worried about the series ending in a draw as it did against England, it could be worth backing Bangladesh as singles in each of the two Tests. If you wait for the toss and hope Bangladesh get to bowl at Australia in the fourth innings on wickets which will be worn and like minefields, all the better. They are +520 with Marathon Bet to win game one. It’s value.