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Aussie camp focuses on mind-games

Press Trust Of India
Dec 20, 2011 at 06:24pm IST

Melbourne: Mind games and countering India's swing bowlers are the main focus of Australia's batting camp ahead of the grueling four-Test series beginning on December 26.

In a bid to improve the footwork of the struggling Australian batsmen as they gear up to deal with the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, bowling machines will be used to simulate swing and the points of delivery of the Indian speedsters.

Captain Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, Dan Christian, Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh are taking part in the camp, which got underway on Tuesday, under the watchful eyes of coach Mickey Arthur and batting coach Justin Langer.

Aus camp focuses on mind-games, combating swing

The camp is organised in a bid to improve the footwork of the struggling Australian batsmen.

"You can do the physical and technical preparation but for me a lot of preparation for the opposition is a real mental thing," Langer was quoted as saying in the Australian media.

"A lot of it has to do with strategy. It's a mind game really. We know the Indian bowlers really well. We've just got to get our minds attuned to getting ready for what is to come.

"The (recent batting) collapses, we certainly don't ever accept those, we need to get better. I think the wicket in Hobart was really green, and in Cape Town it was a lot different wicket than we'd generally play on. We have to adapt better, there is no doubt about that, but I'd like to think that no one is panicking," he added.

Australia had a torrid time while negotiating the moving ball in recent series against South Africa and New Zealand and Arthur is concerned Indian counterpart Duncan Fletcher is plotting a swing-led take down of his top order.

Arthur will use the camp to deeply analyse his batsmen's techniques, having had little time to do so since joining Cricket Australia on the eve of the New Zealand series.

Arthur, known for his man management when coach of South Africa, will take the opportunity to preach a team-first ethos, batting in partnerships and resilience during tough times, having been shattered by the second-innings meltdown in Hobart.

He will also attempt to learn more about the personal lives of his men and what makes them tick in a bid to unlock their best form.

The timing of the camp is unusual for the squad for the first Test has yet to be named. However, Ponting's inclusion means it's almost certain he will at least start the series amid intense scrutiny over his position.

Some of the Australians, however, have ridiculed the idea of a camp, saying such workshops are for 4 to 10 year olds and not for veterans who have played over 100 Tests.

The camp will double as a fitness test for Shane Watson, who missed the series against New Zealand because of hamstring and calf complaints.

Arthur said during the camp the batsmen would face bowling machines designed to replicate Ishant and Zaheer Khan.

The South African said over the next two days at the batting camp, the plan for Ponting would be to "free him up" ahead of a series against an Indian attack that could feature Ishant, who has dismissed him six times from eight Tests.

"This is giving us the best opportunity for us to be in the best possible space for Boxing Day. That's it," he said.

"We're not reinventing the wheel in any way, we're giving our batters the maximum opportunity to get themselves ready to play a Test match starting on Boxing Day. We feel there are one or two things we need to discuss.

"We're also going to have a look at India, we're going to talk about their attack, talk about what we can expect from them and practice accordingly. It's certainly no boot camp.

It's giving our batters an opportunity to get themselves into the best possible frame of mind for the 26th," he added.

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