The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Steve doesn’t mind being under-prepared
- 1ST TEST vs BANGLA l Skipper feels sledging is justified to keep opposition under pressure

Sydney: Steve Waugh has admitted his Australian team by necessity will be under-prepared when it faces Bangladesh in the first Test in Darwin next month.

The Australians will go into the Test without a practice match or a training camp. Bangladesh, on the other hand, will have three lead-up matches on its first tour of Australia.

Steve said he was not too concerned about the lack of preparation against the weakest of the 11 Test-playing nations.

“I’m assuming the guys who played both the Tests and one-dayers in the West Indies won’t be picking up a bat or a ball until next week at least,” Steve said on Thursday.

“I think we’ll be scratchy and not that well prepared... But the guys are used to that now and they know how to get themselves prepared, but it won’t be an extensive build-up.

“It’s a pretty low-key preparation coming into a Test series — there’s no practice matches, there’s no camp — but it’s difficult to keep having those things when the guys are away from home so much.”

Bangladesh have lost 18 of their 19 Tests since being admitted to the international fold in 2000.

The inequity of modern cricket where Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are struggling to keep up with Australia and South Africa has prompted a review of the game by the ICC.

Last week ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said the idea of a two-tier Test system with a promotion-relegation would be investigated.

But it’s something which appals Steve. “I think that would be unfair. How are you going to get the bottom sides to improve if they keep playing other weak sides' I’d like to think cricket is in a better state than that... I think that’s being too elitist.

“They (Bangladesh) have got to learn and they’ve got to catch-up. Sri Lanka proved they could do it — 10 years after being given Test status they won the World Cup. So I think you’ve got to put more resources into these countries and help them out rather than say ‘you’re not good enough, we’ll see you in five years when you’ve improved’.

“There’s got to be a concerted effort to bring these guys up to standard.”

While the Australian cricketers claim they are over-worked, a full-strength side has been picked against Bangladesh.

Steve denied the Test side was doing it just for money, with the Aussies picking up their standard match fee for Tests which could last less than three days.

“I don’t think it’s ever about money. I don’t think any of the guys have ever played cricket because of money... We’re going into the Bangladesh series to play for pride and respect,” he said.

“It’s a big honour to be playing for Australia, a lot of other guys would love to be playing in this series.”

Bangladesh, under new coach Dav Whatmore, open their Australian tour against a Queensland Academy of Sport Invitational XI in Brisbane Friday before heading to Darwin for the first Test starting July 18.

Meanwhile, Steve says he is happy for his players to create mental pressure on opposing batsmen through the controversial practice of sledging.

The Australian team was roundly criticised last month during the tour of West Indies when fast bowler Glenn McGrath launched a foul-mouthed tirade at West Indian batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan during the fourth Test in Antigua.

The images of McGrath finger-pointing and screaming at Sarwan over something he apparently said prompted Australian Cricket Board chief executive James Sutherland to tell Steve to rein in his players’ emotions.

“Our team likes to talk amongst ourselves in order to put a doubt in the batsman’s mind. I am all for that,” he said.

“For example, if Shane Warne’s bowling into the rough outside the batsman’s legs and he is trying to sweep, the guy at short leg might say ‘can you believe this guy is trying to sweep Warney out of the rough'’

“And the player on the other side at bat-pad might say ‘obviously these guys don’t have a TV in their rooms — they have got no idea what is going on’.

“If we can get the batsman in some doubt that is fair enough.”

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