Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne December 24, 2012

Lyon has Arthur's backing


Australia's coach Mickey Arthur has defended Nathan Lyon after criticism from both Muttiah Muralitharan and Stuart MacGill over the past few days. Lyon did not take a wicket in the second innings of Australia's victory against Sri Lanka in Hobart; he bowled 32 overs including 12 maidens but rarely threatened to lure the Sri Lankan batsmen into a false stroke as they sought to play out a draw on the final day.

After the Test, MacGill told Fox Sports he believed Lyon was bowling too fast and too straight, and he was also rushing between overs rather than slowing proceedings down and letting the batsmen wait. Muralitharan told the Herald Sun on Monday that Australia did not "have the person to take wickets on a turning wicket," and that Sri Lanka's batsmen could have gone after Lyon more in Hobart because "nothing much [was] happening" when he was bowling.

However, Lyon remains firmly in Australia's Test plans, having been the team's leading wicket-taker during the recent series against South Africa. Arthur said Lyon was developing as a bowler and it was important to realise that he was still young, at 24, with relatively little first-class experience to his name, and that his record of 56 Test victims at 31.92 from 17 Tests was a fine start to his career.

"He's young, he's still finding out about his bowling," Arthur said. "[He has] immense potential though. We're backing Nathan because Nathan will deliver for us in the long run. Spinners only reach their peak at 28 or 29. We've got a 24-year-old who has got over 50 wickets [and was the] leading wicket-taker through the South African series. Nathan is doing everything right. He is working extremely hard. Nathan is a very good bowler and will be a very good bowler for Australia going forward."

Lyon is preparing for his second Boxing Day Test, and it will be his 18th match in the baggy green - more than half of his 32 first-class games have been Tests. This summer he has been tested on the fifth day on three occasions and while he understands that his performances in such situations will come under scrutiny, he believes every match has provided him with a valuable learning opportunity.

"I'm learning every time I go out to bowl," Lyon said. "There have been a couple of day five pitches but in Adelaide South Africa batted fantastically and in Hobart we got the result. There are a lot of expectations on the spinner but I'm not worried about that, I'm worried about doing the right thing for the team and working well with Pup and all the other bowlers.

"I reckon it's the best place to learn. You're playing at the top of the tree and that's the best place to learn. If you're not learning up there I'm not sure why you're playing. I'm really enjoying every opportunity of playing cricket for Australia and every time I walk out on the field, whether it's with the bat or ball. I'm relishing the chance and I know in myself I'm growing as a human and with my cricket."

As for the criticism of his bowling speed in some situations this summer, Lyon said he was in constant dialogue with the captain Michael Clarke, who stands at slip, about how to deliver the ball to best challenge the batsmen.

"I'm talking to Michael Clarke and Matt Wade after every over about my pace," he said. "They're my guides. I'm not really fazed about what people are coming out and saying. We're out there in the middle, we know what pace we have to bowl on that pitch. It's easy sitting at home. I'm communicating with Pup and Wadey every over about my pace. I've got a pretty good guide there with one of the best players in the world, Michael Clarke, and the Australian keeper."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roo on December 25, 2012, 23:29 GMT

    @Tomek @dunger.bob... Agree with your comms... Lots of knee jerk reactions about Lyon without any cricket understanding... There isn't any other standout spinner in Oz atm...

    Not sure why all the Dutchy comms - he's had surgery on exactly the same shoulder injury he had 2 years ago (& another 4 years ago) - who can say when he's coming back?... He'll need much more than the 2 SS matches he had early in the season to be a serious contender as he's yet to get a a wkt this season...

    Seems the selectors want a L/R arm combo for its spinners (re: Dutchy) so I guess that would put Beer & O'Keefe into contention for India Tests in 7 wks - though Hauritz & Maxwell have had reasonable seasons as well...

  • Dummy4 on December 25, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    At least he bowls the ball and doesn't throw it like one of his critics. 800 run outs from Murali

  • Anupam on December 25, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    IF Murli,Warne, Macgill, Gibbs, told that Lyon is not an international bowler then why there is argument. Man these are LORD OF SPIN THEY SAID MEANS ITS A UNIVERSAL TRUTH.

  • rajmohan on December 25, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    @LillianThomson why does Steve O'Keefe keeps getting overlooked?......1st class avg of 29 with ball....31 with bat....

  • Dummy4 on December 25, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    A bit rich or Murali, when did he ever take wickets in Australia? Ashley Mallett is the only person Lyon should take any notice of at this point. In any case, the Hobart pitch wasn't turning, it just had some rough outside off which Lyon bowled into rather well, but had no luck.

  • Andrew on December 25, 2012, 0:50 GMT

    In my opinion the problems started in WI. Last summer in Aus Lyon bowled beautifully with flight and loop and most importantly dip. But in WI the pitches are better suited to a spinner who bowls flatter and faster, i.e. to Michael Beer's style of bowling. But did they select Beer? No they selected Lyon and he tried to bowl like Beer, and has got himself stuck bowling like that ever since. The flight and dip appear occassionally but not often enough. Lyon is still Australia's best spinner and Beer is the 2nd best, but I wish the selectors would have the confidence to tell them to stick to their own natural bowling style and pick whichever one is more suited to the conditions, rather than select Lyon all the time and force him to change his style before his game has fully developed. And in India they should definitely select both of them together.

  • stuart on December 24, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    For what it is worth I would say that he is not even the best Aussie in Aus as that would be Hauritz.

  • Anupam on December 24, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    For a win in india Oz should try and look two things. ENG won in india due to cook, KP which is match to clarke & hussey (IMO he should bat upper to the order) secondly two spinners swanny & monty is not match to (school campus spinner) lyon & BEER (he is better than lyon). so Oz will gonna loose the test match. the second thing which can be tried by Oz is the SA way. SA won the series due to AFRICAN DEADLY BARRAGE (Steyn, morkel, phil, de lange, tsotsobe- anypitch, anywhere) SA played wiyh their strength which is fast bowling. Oz don't have Oz Deadly barrage- so again oz will loose the series but Oz will must go to SA way. I guess how Oz will play 4 spinners. ENG is really AWESOME.

  • michael on December 24, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    India will be interesting for the Australians. The Indians will be looking to fight back so Lyon better bowl the best he's ever bowled. As for the left arm spinners slot the cupboard really is bare. O'Keefe, Doherty and Beer are all very ordinary. Aus might have to rely on pace. I'd pick India for a narrow 2-1 win.

  • Tim on December 24, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    The fact is that Lyon is both better and younger than any other spinner pressing for his place. He can still improve for sure but that is just all the more reason to persist with him. He'll probably go on to become Australia's most prolific finger spinner before he's even 30. He's a gun.

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