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Australia's tour selections in a spin

Cricket

Australia’s spin mix for Bangladesh remains a source of intrigue with coach Darren Lehmann giving little away after a three-day trial match.

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The 14-man squad will enjoy a day off today after toiling in hot conditions at a Darwin training camp designed to prepare them for the two-Test series commencing in Dhaka on August 27.

With few obvious holes to fill in the likely XI for the first Test, it is yet to be seen who will take the place of dumped tweaker Steve O’Keefe.

Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar would appear to be best-placed after taking four wickets on the final day of the intra-squad match.

Uncapped legspinner Mitchell Swepson – a late addition to the squad – struggled in comparison with figures of 0-94 and 0-34.

But Lehmann declined to say whether Agar was in the box seat to partner Nathan Lyon as the second spin option.

“He bowled beautifully today,” Lehmann said.

“Obviously he’s on tour, so you’d have to look at that, and obviously Swepson’s there.

“I thought (Jon) Holland bowled really well today as well, so we’re starting to get some depth in our spinning department, which is important.”

The performance of left-arm spinner Holland – who was overlooked for the tours of Bangladesh and India despite his outstanding form in the Sheffield Shield – will also give selectors cause for thought beyond the Bangladesh tour.

The forgotten Victorian ripped through the David Warner XI middle order on Wednesday to finish with figures of 4-1.

“Obviously we know he’s a quality bowler,” Lehmann said.

“At the end of the day, you can only pick 14.

“He did his selection (chances) no harm at all, obviously moving forward, so really pleased for him and his wickets this morning.”

While Peter Handscomb, Steve Smith and allrounder Hilton Cartwright put together big scores, it was a different story for Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja and David Warner.

Warner is on the mend after copping a bouncer in the neck during a trial game, Lehmann says, with the coach in no doubt the vice-captain will be on the flight to Dhaka.

The 30-year-old was rested for yesterday’s conclusion of the three-day intra-squad game in Darwin, despite passing a concussion test after being struck by a Josh Hazlewood ball on Tuesday afternoon.

Lehmann said Warner was nursing a stiff neck and headache after attempting a hook shot but misreading a short-pitched Hazlewood delivery.

“He seems alright, walking around the ground today, so fingers crossed he’ll be okay and we’ll get an update in the next day or two,” Lehmann said.

“It’s always a scare when that happens, isn’t it?

“Hopefully he’s going to be OK.”

The incident threw a major scare into the Australian camp. Warner hit the deck, seemingly a result of the momentum of the stroke as much as the impact of the ball, but almost instantly got back on his feet.

As Hazlewood and skipper Steve Smith rushed to check on his welfare, Warner dropped his bat, removed his helmet and walked off unassisted.

It served as the latest reminder of the dangers of the sport that were highlighted so tragically by the death of Phillip Hughes, a close friend of Warner, in 2014.

Hughes was struck on the neck by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match and died in hospital two days later.

Australia will play a tour match commencing next Tuesday ahead of the first Test on August 27, and Lehmann said it would be a valuable chance for his top-order batsmen to spend more time at the crease.

“They’re all pretty cooked, (which is) exactly what we wanted,” Lehmann said.

“We would have liked to bat a bit longer today but they were tough conditions and that’s exactly what we wanted obviously leading into Bangladesh.

“We’ve got to get better at batting for longer periods but I thought the spinners were good.”

-AAP

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