Stuart Law believes Australia may be surprised at the strength of the Bangladesh team they take on in next month's Test series in Chittagong and Dhaka. Law, the former Australia batsman, has previously served as coach of Bangladesh and Queensland, and he is now back in Bangladesh to help them prepare for next year's Under-19 World Cup.
A new-look Australia will tour Bangladesh next month under captain Steven Smith, with five veterans missing having recently retired: Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Chris Rogers, Ryan Harris and Shane Watson. They will also be without David Warner, who has a thumb injury, and the fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood are being rested.
Bangladesh should therefore view this as their best chance to rattle Australia, having previously lost all four Tests they have played against them, in 2003 and 2006. However, Bangladesh have lost only two of their past 12 Tests at home, and they are also coming off ODI series wins at home against South Africa, India and Pakistan this year.
"If Bangladesh play anywhere near what they have been in recent times, they will give Australia a real fright," Law said. "People who are expecting Australia to come here and be the big bully and beat Bangladesh out of the stadium, don't think that's the case. Bangladesh will be ready for a fight."
Smith will be in charge of a squad featuring two uncapped players, fast bowler Andrew Fekete and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft, and a further eight members of the group have played fewer than 10 Tests. Law said that would add to their challenge, as would the conditions in Bangladesh, where the heat and turn of the pitches will test the Australians.
"Australia are going through rebuilding," Law said. "It is a different look team. The amount of experience that has left the team recently is a huge hole to fill.
"Understand it will be hot. The ball will turn and another big stepping stone would be to get used to the lifestyle here. They have a lot of hurdles to jump over. Bangladesh has to play good cricket. It will be tight."
The make-up of Australia's XI remains a mystery but with Nathan Lyon, Steve O'Keefe and Glenn Maxwell in the squad they have plenty of spinning options, as well as the seam-bowling allrounder Mitchell Marsh and four frontline fast men. Writing in his column on Cricket Australia's website, Smith said there were plenty of options for how to balance the side.
"With wickets that are likely to be conducive to spin, there's a possibility we could play two spinners and two allrounders in the starting XI," Smith wrote. "Mitch Marsh's bowling has come a long way on this tour, and we all know what Glenn Maxwell can do with his off-spin and dynamic batting.
"Maxi has really impressed me over the course of the one-day series. It looks like all the hard work he's put in during his stint with Yorkshire has paid off, so it's great to see him learning and improving and I look forward to see how he goes on spinning wickets in Bangladesh."