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Aust mull rethink on subcontinent struggle

AAP logoAAP 21/10/2016 Rob Forsaith

Steve Smith has endorsed the prospect of picking subcontinent specialists for Australia's tour of India in February, when they will seek to snap a 12-year winless streak.

Smith's focus is firmly fixed on the Test series against South Africa and Pakistan at home.

But in the back of the skipper's mind is a four-Test tour of India at summer's end, when his teammates will revisit the scene of "homeworkgate" that in effect cost former coach Mickey Arthur his job.

That 2013 tour was a shambolic 4-0 series loss.

Australia haven't recorded a Test victory in India since their 2-1 series win in 2004.

That trend is unlikely to end next year based on Australia's form during a 3-0 series loss in Sri Lanka earlier this year.

That resounding defeat prompted Cricket Australia high-performance chief Pat Howard to suggest there would be a greater emphasis on specialist selections on the subcontinent.

"You need to have the team that's most suited to those conditions," Smith told cricket.com.au

"You pick different teams from T20s to one-dayers to Tests, so why not some time in the future pick teams for certain conditions?

"That could be a possibility somewhere down the track."

India confirmed dates for the series in Friday, with the action to start in Pune on February 23.

It seems no amount of Indian Premier League experience will make the country any less confronting for Smith's side.

Steve Waugh, the former Australia captain who memorably dubbed India the "final frontier", preached the value of patience when asked about the subcontinental slump.

"They shouldn't be intimidated by it. They've played enough cricket there," Waugh told AAP as he prepared to take part in his Captain's Ride charity event.

"They've got to be more patient when they play over there.

"You've got to almost wear the opposition down sometimes and just hang in there through the tough times.

"Maybe a lot of the battle is in the head before you get there. It's not a surprise the conditions you're going to confront, so maybe it's just an attitude thing."

Waugh noted it was imperative Smith's side restore some confidence at home following their most recent Test outing.

"We were very flat in Sri Lanka ... it was one of the worst tours we've had for a long time," Waugh said.

"That Sri Lanka side was one of the weaker sides we've played in a long time.

"When you get behind the eight ball in the subcontinent, it's really hard to come back. Once their spinners get confidence and our batters lost confidence then we started to panic."

Waugh is also growing impatient regarding Australia's lack of success in England. The side he captained in 2001 remains the most recent outfit to win the Ashes overseas.

"I never thought for one moment that I'd still be sitting here now as the last captain to win in England. It's been 15 years," Waugh said.

Schedule:

1st Test - February 23-27 in Pune

2nd Test - March 4-8 in Bangalore

3rd Test - March 16-20 in Ranchi

4th Test - March 25-29 in Dharamshala

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