Spin focus at pre-season camp
No fewer than eight spin bowlers have been rounded up to take part in Australia's pre-season camp in Darwin from Wednesday, ahead of trips to the UAE, Sri Lanka and India over the coming year.
Nathan Hauritz, Jason Krejza, Michael Beer, Cameron Boyce and Steve O'Keefe will join those slow bowlers already selected for the matches against Afghanistan and Pakistan, which include Xavier Doherty, Brad Hogg and the Victorian allrounder Glenn Maxwell. Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland are absent due to the concurrent Australia A tour of England.
The national team's planners have also spent time in discussion with the Marrara Oval curator John Furner, directing him to prepare training surfaces as similar as possible to those expected in the UAE and Sri Lanka.
Beyond the home summer lies a four-Test series in India, and the national selectors are also thought to be keen to assess their options apart from Lyon.
"We've got a couple of important series coming up, in the UAE against Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September and after a disappointing series in England recently we feel this is a great opportunity to really put in some good preparation ahead of our next tours," the Australia coach Mickey Arthur said.
"We're expecting dry, turning and slower pitches in the UAE and also in Sri Lanka so we have a real spin-bowling focus on the next week in Darwin with both our training and matches
"The Marrara Oval curator is preparing net and centre wicket conditions similar to those we're going to face in the UAE and in Sri Lanka so our spin bowlers can get some good practice in, while our batsmen can also get accustomed to playing in those conditions."
The young New South Wales batsman Nic Maddinson is another notable invitee to the camp from outside the list of CA contracted players, while Mitch Marsh has also been included following his dumping from the Centre of Excellence last month for disciplinary reasons.
CA contracted and UAE tour squad: George Bailey, Dan Christian, Michael Clarke, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hogg, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White
Non-CA contracted: Michael Beer, Cameron Boyce, Nathan Hauritz, Jason Krejza, Nic Maddinson, Stephen O'Keefe, Mitch Marsh
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here