Former Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera is working with some Australia Test players ahead of their tour to Sri Lanka, in his brief consulting stint at Australia’s National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.
Samaraweera has been hired as a consultant for the academy from June to August. Though his role is not specifically geared towards preparing Australia Test players for the forthcoming tour, he has already begun to work with Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, and Jackson Bird, as they prepare for the tour.
“At the moment I’m involved with the National Cricket Academy in Brisbane,” Samaraweera said. “I’m working with a few Test players who are not involved in that West Indies tri-series. They are just coming here to train.”
Samaraweera, who lives in Melbourne, said he was unlikely to accompany the Australia team on their Sri Lanka tour, and that he was also working with Australia’s A team players. He had had a previous stint at the academy, ahead of the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh earlier this year, which the Australia Under-19 side eventually withdrew from.
Cricket Australia has also prepared two turning pitches at the academy in order to emulate Sri Lankan conditions. It is on these surfaces that Samaraweera has been working with the Test players.
“I’ve had a hit on the spin wicket here and it’s very good – very similar to what you get on the subcontinent and it was a challenging net session,” Marsh said. “Samaraweera was throwing a few offies as well, and it’s been really good to chat to him and get a bit of an insight into the sort of conditions we’ll be facing in the next couple of months. He’s been helping with advice on how to play spin, he’s good to chat about that with.”
Hiring coaches accustomed to local conditions isn’t a new concept for Australia. S Sriram, the former India batsman, was consultant of the A team for their tour of India in 2015 and the senior squad for the World T20 in 2016, Muttiah Muralitharan, the former Sri Lanka spinner, was roped in to work with the spinners during Australia’s Test tour of UAE in 2014. Allan Donald, in April this year, was appointed as the team’s fast bowling mentor for their tour of Sri Lanka.
Australia arrive in Sri Lanka in early July, well ahead of the first Test, which begins in Pallekele on July 26. (Courtesy Cricinfo)