Lyon hopes for two-spinner attack
Nathan Lyon, the Australia offspinner, believes Australia should field two spinners in the Test series against India, which begins in two weeks' time. Lyon was one of eight members of the Australia Test squad who landed in Chennai on Thursday, to acclimatise ahead of the series.
"I personally think so [that two spinners should play]. It's going to be a big challenge for all of us in the different conditions over here," Lyon said. "Hopefully there'll be an opportunity where two spinners will be able to go out on the field together for Australia."
Lyon pointed to the success the English slow bowlers enjoyed in India last November-December as evidence that more spinners is a strategy that is likely to work. He took note of a few things that he would like to emulate, he said. "I certainly watched [Monty] Panesar and [Graeme] Swann. They bowled quite well. I did watch Swann very, very closely and I hope to take in a few things and put the same method into practice against India. And India, they even played four spinners in the last Test against England."
Both India and England had played at least two spinners in all four Tests of that series, with India playing only a single quick in the second and fourth matches. The wicket charts, expectedly, were dominated by the spinners: Swann and Panesar took 20 and 17 wickets respectively, comfortably ahead of the next highest for England - James Anderson with 12. For India, while Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin took 34 wickets between them, all their other bowlers combined tallied 17.
Australia have a second spinner in left-armer Xavier Doherty, and spinning allrounders in Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell. The squad also includes 19-year-old Western Australia left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, in a development capacity: he will bowl at the touring batsmen in the nets and is likely to play the first warm-up game. This abundance of spin options will create healthy competition, Lyon said. "It's going to be a good challenge for all of us, and it's going to be really good pushing each other along for spots in the first Test side."
Dennis Lillee, the former Australia fast bowler, is in Chennai too and will work with the Australian team, researching why several of their young fast bowlers seem to be breaking down. "I'll be consulting when there are technical issues or injuries, but I'm not going to be travelling with the team," Lillee told the Hindu. "I'm looking into a lot of things, certainly their training methods, but also technique. My focus is on fitness, strength, and flexibility. So there's a lot I'll be researching and thinking about."
Australia will play the first of two tour games from February 12, against the Indian Board President's XI in Chennai. The first Test starts on Feburary 22, also in Chennai.