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Come in, Spinners: Boof flags changes for Sri Lanka

Cricket

Darren Lehmann is confident Australia have the spin stocks to thrive in Sri Lanka, where they will seek to continue their Test dominance in July.

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Australia reclaimed the No.1 Test ranking in Christchurch this week, recording a 2-0 series win over New Zealand.

Their next Test assignment is a three-match tour of Sri Lanka.

Australia will include at least two spinners in that touring party.

Nathan Lyon is likely to find himself bowling in tandem with Steve O’Keefe or Glenn Maxwell, while Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa are also highly rated by national selectors.

“We’re pretty comfortable with where the spinners are at,” Lehmann said.

Australia’s coach was unsure just how much the Test squad will change compared to the group that crushed NZ in Wellington and Christchurch.

“It’ll certainly be different to here,” he said.

“How much that changes I don’t know but you’d have to have a couple of spinners, [also] blokes who play spin well.

“That’s the biggest thing when you play away, you have to change and not fight the conditions.”

Lehmann suggested Australia are now doing that better than they used to.

“We’ve learnt that along the way,” he said.

“The advantage we’ve got is we have A-games, an extra tour game in Sri Lanka, so we’ve got better preparation than before.”

Six players – headlined by Michael Clarke – ended their Test careers in 2015.

Lehmann couldn’t be happier with how his young side has grown after so much experience walked out the door.

Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja have nailed down their spots in the XI this summer, filling the void left by Clarke and Chris Rogers.

“For success, you need to be able to pick and grow as a team,” Lehmann said.

“We’ve been managing to do that because we had such a big exodus of players in one hit.

“That was the advantage, I suppose, as a selection panel… letting blokes play for a series.

“Lucky enough we’re doing that at the moment because we’ve got so many injuries and retirements.”

While Australia are now the world’s best cricket side in two formats, Lehmann acknowledges there is much to be done if they’re to win the Twenty20 World Cup, which starts in India next month.

It is the one major cricket tournament that Australia have never won.

Pooled with India, Pakistan and New Zealand and playing on the subcontinent, progressing to the knockout stage of the event will be a stern challenge for Australia – let alone winning the tournament.

“It’s very good to be No.1 in Tests and one-dayers and we’d like to be there in T20,” Lehmann said.

“But to do that we’ve got to start playing better than we have.

“The hardest thing over there is adapting to conditions really quickly.

“It’s about starting the tournament well… in any T20 competition if you start well you go a long way.

“You need to get off to a bit of a flyer, we didn’t do that last time.”

Australia’s campaign starts with a match against NZ in Dharamsala on March 18.

They first head to South Africa for a three-match T20 series, designed to help both sides prepare for the World Cup.

Lehmann hopes curators at Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town try to replicate subcontinent conditions as best they can.

“Hopefully South Africa are thinking the same things and making the wickets as close to India as they possibly can,” he said.

The 15-man squad departs on Sunday.

Batting coach Michael Di Venuto will help out in South Africa before linking up with English side Surrey.

Lehmann acknowledged Di Venuto’s departure would be a big loss so close to the T20 World Cup.

“Everyone has to pick up, get the slack up and away we go again,” he said.

“Are we going to miss him? Yeah, but you’ll miss everyone at some stage.

“Everyone moves on at some stage. The great thing for us is people are poaching our coaches and it’s a great thing for him.”

-AAP

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