Australia in India 2012-13

Lyon hopes for two-spinner attack

ESPNcricinfo staff

February 8, 2013

Comments: 48 | Text size: A | A

Nathan Lyon sends down a delivery, West Indies v Australia, 3rd Test, Roseau, 5th day, April 27, 2012
Nathan Lyon: " I did watch [Graeme] Swann very, very closely and I hope to ... put the same method into practice against India" © Associated Press
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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.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (February 9, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

@ ReadandWhiteArmy, based on existing statistics England has a .31 win to loss/draw/tie ratio while Australia has a .40 ratio in India. Australia's winning ratio is some ten points higher, albeit over fewer tests, but regardless of that fact the ratio of wins by both teams suggest that their records in India are far better than many commentators would have us believe. Both winning ratios are more than acceptable.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 9, 2013, 11:09 GMT)

RedWhite Army - In laymans terms for you, Australia have won 29% of matches in India, England ariound 23.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (February 9, 2013, 9:27 GMT)

@vishnu, if that is your real name. "England played 55. Won 13, lost 15, drawn 27. Australia played 42. Won 12, lost 15, tied 1, drawn 14. So England have won one more than australia & we've both lost the same amount? So i fail to see your point. Keep looking back to the past for comfort, i guess its all you guys have now. ouch.

Posted by camcove on (February 9, 2013, 8:31 GMT)

How exciting is this Ashton Agar kid? I know it's very early days (a couple of first class games and a couple of 50 over games for WA, literally), but it's not just the statistics from those matches that are exciting. He is very tall, looks to have a cricket brain, has control and gives the ball a huge rip. I am a Jon Holland fan and believe he is clearly superior to Doherty, Beer and O'Keefe as a leftie finger spinner. Agar seems to put as much "fizz" on the ball, if not more, and he is 6'3" tall. The WA selectors will have a huge dilemma when they have to choose between him and Beer. It will also be interesting if Agar does well in the warm up game in India. By the way, you have to like Langer's approach as coach. His mantra is - this is an incredibly exciting time for a young cricketer - and his sides seem to be playing with that approach. (I also love his handling of S Marsh). Langer and Lehman as coaches are a breath of fresh air.

Posted by pat_one_back on (February 9, 2013, 8:11 GMT)

Nice call outs @Vishnu27, when confronted with a quality team, Eng completely wilted against SA, feeling very vulnerable and hence all the chatter, a rearguard win over India seems to have smoothed over a string of Test losses, their fans here appear to have low expectations and celebrate easily @Mitty2, don't let the haters get you down, Lyon was under huge pressure heading to SL and delivered the goods, reality will pain F-F-L, Lyon only goes for 3 runs and 6 balls more per wicket than his beloved overhyped Swann!!! LMAO

Posted by Vishnu27 on (February 9, 2013, 8:05 GMT)

xylo: a team such as SA "doing all they could to lose" is the "hilarious" comment. Please

Posted by Vishnu27 on (February 9, 2013, 7:55 GMT)

xylo: Australia weren't on top at the 'Gabba & Adelaide??? Are you serious? I don't think I missed anything when I went to those matches. You cannot tell me it was the other way around. We were unlucky in the first two; but that is sport & you must take you chances against a team like SA. Perth was abysmal & SA stepped up. End of story. I'm not the one mentioning Siddle BTW. So Siddle's "heart" alone has got him to 4 in the ICC bowling charts. Siddle's heart is according to you, is all Australia have then? Sounds to me a lot like England supporters shining up a good series win, but clearly moving on from glaring & large home defeat, all the while spruiking themselves to be top of the heap. England clearly have a better batting lineup (but is it settled? I'm not so sure). Australia's pace attack is without doubt streets ahead. AND, I can't wait for you to see it first hand

Posted by landl47 on (February 9, 2013, 7:52 GMT)

I think Lyon should do pretty well, although he will need Wade to keep better than he did against SA and SL. I also believe he's right in saying that two spinners is the best way to go in India, but I'm guessing that there won't be two spinners in the side for the first test, unless you count Clarke. Assuming everybody is fit, I think Aus will go with 6 batsmen, Wade, 3 seamers and Lyon.

Aus has been fairly consistent in the make-up of the side and I don't expect it to change unless and until it proves to be unsuccessful.

Posted by xylo on (February 9, 2013, 7:32 GMT)

@ Vishnu27: Australia almost doing the job against SA was not a case of Australia being on top; it was mostly South Africa doing everything that they could to lose. And lets not forget that they were playing at home. Siddle might have the heart, but that does not make him a Steyn. Everybody seems to agree that Ishant Sharma bowls with a lot of heart but without luck too. And, we are not talking of individuals, but the bowling attack as a whole. Whatever edge Australia might have over India in the pace department, India will hold a similar edge in spin (yes, even Ashwin and Ojha with their current form will be a handful over Lyon and Maxwell(hilarious pick btw)). So, yes, I stand by what I said earlier.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (February 9, 2013, 7:11 GMT)

xylo, did you just make that up? Australia's "not so good bowling lineup" very nearly did the job against SA. Remind me again how England went against SA IN England? Or, would you prefer to conveniently just sweep that under the carpet as if no one else saw it? Seems many of your counterparts prefer that approach. Problem is, everyone in the cricketing world DID see that abject failure on home turf.

Posted by Dangertroy on (February 9, 2013, 6:51 GMT)

So many wickets fell to spin in the India series because the pacemen were by and large rubbish or only played a few matches. Yadav and finn only got a game each due to injury, Broad is very average outside of England, and the rest of the of them don't exactly strike fear into opposing teams. The only exception is jimmy anderson, who did fairly well. Last time South Africa visisted, Steyn and Morkel took the bulk of the wickets. If the pacemen aren't up to the task, then of course the spinners will take the wickets.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (February 9, 2013, 6:16 GMT)

Mitty2: you are right on to it there. The similarities are very distinct indeed. This person clearly has far too much time on his hands in his normal guise. It would not surprise at all..

Posted by Vishnu27 on (February 9, 2013, 6:12 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy: in India stats for you. England played 55. Won 13, lost 15, drawn 27. Australia played 42. Won 12, lost 15, tied 1, drawn 14. Not hard to see who has the better Indian record. BTW Gilchrist lead Australia to victory in India 2004. The last time previously England had won in India was 84/85. It looks like we "showed you how to do it". Ouch

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (February 9, 2013, 5:44 GMT)

@mitty2 More conspiracy theorys ay? Maybe you need to relax before you get hurt.

Posted by xylo on (February 9, 2013, 5:28 GMT)

This might be a good series after all, with the important caveats being that both teams have not so good batting lineups, and not so good bowling lineups. Contrast this with the recent England - South Africa series. Australia hold the edge in terms of focus and willpower, while India will look to press their home advantage.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (February 9, 2013, 4:02 GMT)

FFL really does need to get out a bit & breathe fresh air, if that's possible over there

Posted by Mitty2 on (February 9, 2013, 3:26 GMT)

@FFL this is perfect With your recent failiure of 'bradman the greatest', you've now created 'bring back warnie'. One can deduct that you're a little bit insecure about your ashes chances this year, especially when looking at team performance, how does seven losses to three sound? If you're going to do it atleast make the names less stereotypical (for aus cricket) and please try to say something that you wouldnt say on your normal account. Pathetic

Posted by Mary_786 on (February 9, 2013, 2:36 GMT)

Our bowling will be very important. Siddle and Johnson have some familiarity regarding Indian conditions but our three potential star fast bowlers in Bird, Starc and Patterson are new and its going to depend on how quickly they adapt. I think Bird will be fine because he bowls very straight. The other two could give Australia the tests or become non events. Our spin bowling is a little thin. Lyons and Doherty may do well. Maxwell will find himself being bashed out of the attack. Henriques is smart and quick to adapt but are his medium paces suited to Indian conditions. I believe this is where we will win of lose games.We have a couple of good batsmen against spin such as Clarke, Warner and Khawaja. Be interesting how Warner handles things. Khawaja should thrive. Maxwell I suspect will be found wanting against clever spin. He's gifted but what I've seen of him so far is he's too impulsive. My 3 top batsman predictions are Clarke, Khawaja and Warner. Bring on the series.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (February 8, 2013, 22:03 GMT)

Luck England showed you how to do it, otherwise you'd be going in totally blind. Thanks England.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 8, 2013, 21:01 GMT)

Im not sure what the poroar is about. As shown in australia Lyon is streets ahead of Ashwin who took 17 wickets against the Poms. Then a c ricketer such as Monty Panesar who had his career destroyed by Ausrtralia managed 17 wickets in 3 tests. So if Monty could bounce back cant see why Doherty can either.

Posted by hycIass on (February 8, 2013, 20:46 GMT)

@fakebook no doubt for me that Khawaja has to be in the top 6 but alot will come down to the warm up games, i am sure he will score well in the warm up games as he is in good form and does well in the longer formats. For the spinners i wouldn't use Maxwell in the team as his spin won't stand up in India but go with 2 speclialist spinners in Lyon and Doherty.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (February 8, 2013, 20:35 GMT)

Even though England and India enjoyed success with 2 spinners, the Aussies should not pick Doherty. The guy is utter garbage. Lyon can hold an end up while the seamers get stuck in. I think Michael Clarke is the best Aussie spinner; if his back is up to it, he is a better option than the rest. If Nathan Lyon is as good as Swann then Ian Salisbury was Shane Warne's equal!

Posted by mzm149 on (February 8, 2013, 19:49 GMT)

@anilkp: This "blind man's" stone hits the fruit every time when the opposition is Indian bowling. We saw that in India's latest tour of Australia in both tests and ODIs and later in world t20. Hughes has recently performed quite good against Sri Lankan bowling which is much better than their Indian counterpart and that too in conditions which supported bowling. What to speak of Clarke. "A bit here-and-there" Watson is back in form and he has been consistently exceptional against India.

Indian batting is so pathetic these days that Australian bowlers will keep on restricting them to low totals. Therefore, it will not be necessary for all of the Aussie batsmen to score big. That is why I am predicting 4-0.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (February 8, 2013, 19:04 GMT)

@Thefakebook, From what I can gather I don't think CA are looking at Steve Smith as an allrounder in this series. I think he has been picked as middle order batting cover, although I suspect he will end up doing quite a lot of drinks carrying!. I'm pretty sure Wade will bat 6 & Maxwell 7. If the 3 quicks don't work then I would suspect Henriques may replace Maxwell at some point & Doherty replace one of the quicks.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (February 8, 2013, 18:45 GMT)

I think the oz selectors are pretty clear that they are going to go with 3 seamers and Lyon. Everything is currently pointing towards Maxwell playing as the all rounder at 7. Even with Oz limited spin options i'm far from convinced that they can win this series playing 3 quicks. In the recent series vs Eng 75% of the wickets were taken by spinners & it was generally very hard work for the quicks on very unhelpful surfaces, more of the same can be expected here. Oz will probably argue that their pool of seamers is better than those that were on show in the Eng series but to be honest I don't think Oz have anyone better than Anderson and he still only managed 12 Wick @ around 30, even if oz's 3 seamers all perform as well as Anderson did it won't be enough for them to win this series, I think at least 2 of them will have to bowl out of their skin. My hunch is that the 3 seamers won't be effective enough & I can see Doherty & Lyon bowling in tandem by the end of the series.

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (February 8, 2013, 18:00 GMT)

2 spinners in India is a good idea indeed but in tests they will have to go with 2 specialist spinners and not some bits and pieces players like steve smith or maxwell

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (February 8, 2013, 17:53 GMT)

Come on FFL if Monty can take wickets in India anyone can take wickets in India. Michael Clarke took a 6 wicket haul over there bowling his left arm whoosh.

Posted by bigdhonifan on (February 8, 2013, 15:59 GMT)

As some one said in this thread, now a days mediocre spinners like Swann, Monty, Ajmal, Lyon looking for success in India.... What happened to Indian battting? Miss the FAB4 badly. When we going to build again a batting line again or similar to Dravid, Sachin, VVS & Ganguly and Sewag with some one at top..The best ever batting line up.

Posted by ozziespirit on (February 8, 2013, 14:06 GMT)

That England have Swann doing so well for them, as well as his abiity to really turn the ball, Australia need to find someone other than Lyon as this stands out a mile now - and think how much it'll stand out come the Ashes. Give O'Keefe a go, and pick some youngster who's raw but who is able to turn the ball. Aus need to stop picking dart bowlers, it only pegs us back.

Posted by brusselslion on (February 8, 2013, 13:54 GMT)

"This abundance of spin options will create healthy competition, Lyon said" If you put quantity over quality then I guess that he is right.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (February 8, 2013, 13:04 GMT)

"Lyon hopes for two-spinner attack". Where is Australia going to find two spinners from who haven't had their careers ruined/ended by England and who aren't spent goods?? Lyon must be talking about players other than himself, given that he's a Seamer. Fancy filling the spinner's role with a seamer, you'd never find England doing that. There again, Australia's cricketing standards are pretty low these days, as they have been for quite a while..

Posted by applethief on (February 8, 2013, 13:00 GMT)

Unlikely to see this in the tests due to selection, but would love to see Ashwin vs Maxwell - 2 players full of boundless confidence and questionable talent, could be pretty entertaining!

Posted by CricketMaan on (February 8, 2013, 12:45 GMT)

Both Monty and Swanny were atleast 10mph more than Ashwin and Ohja which is why they purchased more out of Mumbai wicket. Also, the fact that Ohja bolwed slow thro' the air meant KP and Cook played him late and hence countered spin. Lastly poor form was also a reason why Indian batters got battered!! which will continue given the way Viru, GG, Kholi have played recently. only Pujara, SRT and MSD look allright with bat. Krejza took 16 wickets but those were days when Indian batsmen were in peak form and there was Kumble and Bhajii bowling in tandem.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (February 8, 2013, 12:41 GMT)

Regardless of how many spinners you play, 3 quality pacers in the XI are an absolute must against India. Along with Lyon, I will pick Doherty although that will significantly weaken the batting, with only 5 specialist batsmen and Wade. But Aussies should take that risk, because the Chennai pitch is definitely going to be a turner(But make sure you go into the Test with 3 frontline pacemen ie Siddle, Starc and Bird/Pattinson). But I suspect Clarke's five bowlers will be: Siddle, Starc, Bird, Lyon and Maxwell to cover all bases.

Posted by PadMarley on (February 8, 2013, 12:23 GMT)

Once upon a time ago ... Even the greatest of all, Murali and Warne had absolutely tough times in India trying topple Indian line-up with Sachin, Dravid, Gangually, Sehwag, VVS etc ... Now even the average spinners are aiming for big success in India. This is sad!

Posted by Unexcitable on (February 8, 2013, 12:21 GMT)

In the three and a half seasons since both O'Keefe and Doherty came back from three seasons in the virtual first-class wilderness, here are their shield figures: O'Keefe: 23 matches; 63 wickets at 28.44 Doherty: 20 matches; 55 wickets at 28.40 Lyon: 11 matches; 24 wickets at 54.25 No other spinner comes close (Lyon's shield average over the same time is 53). And as Mitty says, Doherty doesn't get to play half his matches on the spin-friendly pitches in Sydney. Doherty is not quite the dud many people think he is when they don't bother to look beyond his career average in the forties. That simply reflects that he got a few maulings as an 18-year-old. Who wouldn't?

Posted by Dashgar on (February 8, 2013, 12:12 GMT)

@Mitty, if part timers always fail in India then why did Michael Clarke take his only 6 wicket haul there? Maxwell is a pretty decent bowler with a few tricks up his sleeve. I'm looking forward to seeing him and Lyon bowl together.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 8, 2013, 11:59 GMT)

I hope he was watching Magic Monty as well. It's funny how nobody appreciates how magnificent and crucial he was in England's performance. I would have had Swann, Monty and Tredwell all playing together, and Briggs was there but was ignored. Yeah people are going to moan that Tredwell and Briggs are for short-formats only, but I don't buy that - especially for Asian/spin-friendly conditions.

To keep more to the article, why are Warne and MacGill not out there developing more wrist-spinners instead of criticising Aus. selectors/players?

Posted by applethief on (February 8, 2013, 11:58 GMT)

This article isn't quite correct - England did not play at least 2 spinners in each test, Monty wasn't selected for the 1st test, it was just Swann, same thing as the UAE tests

Posted by thebatsmansHoldingthebowlersWilley on (February 8, 2013, 11:44 GMT)

Shame, there isn't a second spin bowler in the squad.

Posted by Jayzuz on (February 8, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

Mitty2, actually Lyon gets plenty of spin in helpful wickets, such as during his successful tour of SL. Did you see Narine or Herath getting much spin out here this season? Swann doesn't turn the ball that much in Australia either. Turn won't be a problem for Lyon in India, as the Indians will prepare sandpaper pitches.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (February 8, 2013, 11:21 GMT)

OKeefe in tandem with Lyon would have been good. Doherty weakens both the bowling and batting. Australia may as well play with 10 men.

Posted by trex1981 on (February 8, 2013, 11:19 GMT)

The problem here is, Swann and Panesar are actually good spinners. Lyon is an okay spinner, Doherty is inconsistent but can be okay in helpful conditions, and Smith and Maxwell are ordinary spinners at best, from what I've seen. I haven't really seen O'Keefe bowl much, but his statistics stack up much better than any of the others at FC level and his continued non-selection is baffling.

Posted by SherjilIslam on (February 8, 2013, 11:15 GMT)

Lyon is just another non-spinning spinner to tour India.One more would be added shortly in that long-list of unsuccessful spinners to tour India.He may get some wickets against India but that wouldn't be earned by him.Those wickets would be a gift to him by Indian batsmen as to release the pressure created by pace bowlers, Indian batters may attack Lyon and eventually gift him a wicket or two.Aussie pace attack is a much bigger threat to India.

Posted by Thefakebook on (February 8, 2013, 11:09 GMT)

Food for thought here can Oz play Maxwell,Smith,Lyon and keep Agar if he bowls really well in warmup game and play him in the first Test as well.Xavier will be the reserve bowler.I know Usman is good batsman and most likely to play but he's not in best of form right now.SO how about this team 1.Warner 2.Watson 3.Hughes 4.CLARKE 5.Smith 6.Maxwell 7.Wade 8.Siddle 9.Starc 10.Agar 11.Lyon.Just saying.

Posted by maddy20 on (February 8, 2013, 11:07 GMT)

Emulating Swann is not gonna be easy. He is probably the best spinner I have seen in recent times. Even Ajmal could not trouble India as much. He does not have many variations, but his ability to bowl in the same spot repeatedly , at a brisk pace(in the mid 90's which is pretty quick for a spinner)with computer like precision was stunning. He will then surprise the batsmen with a straighter one. They will play for turn and get foxed. This has been India's story in the winter. They didn't have to deal with hot weather conditions in the winter was another thing that was hugely in their favor. I am expecting the Aus quicks to do more damage than their spinners. India on the other hand should pick Harbhajan. No one gets under their skins better than him and the guys seems to have got some form back. If Ashwin wants to do silly experiments with his action and lose control, he can do that in domestic cricket! Stopping before release was the funniest thing I have seen in a long time!

Posted by SamRoy on (February 8, 2013, 11:01 GMT)

Yeah but one needs to have ability as well. May be O'Keefe could have got a few wickets. Anyway, currently Lyon has promise but he is not even half the bowler Swann is currently for England and Swann was played pretty well by young Indian batsman. It was the older group (Sehwag, Sachin, Yuvraj) and the tail who just couldn't handle him. Often Monty took the top order and Swann took the lower order wickets.

Posted by Mitty2 on (February 8, 2013, 10:58 GMT)

Lyon has a good record in the sub-continent, and their respective akin pitches of the windies. A five for in both series'. I would not be surprised for him to do extremely well and contradict a few regular posters, but of course, Lyon is a seamer and doesn't turn the ball anywhere as near as the the world's long established biggest turner of the ball in swann.

For us to use maxwell as the second spinner, even if it was on the generally less turning chennai pitch, would be a selection catastrophe. Although in the recent odi's he has looked better than say, a Steven smith, history has unequivocally said that part timers fail in India. Even if the second spinner is a Doherty, who is criticized probably more than he should as his FC record is based at a primarily seamer friendly wicket, whereas o'keefe bowls at the scg which is much better to bowl on. But even so, their difference in averages remains astronomically large, and why he was preferred to o'keefe is due to non evident odi form

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