Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, 2nd day, Brisbane

Vettori impressed by Lyon's aggression

Daniel Brettig at the Gabba

December 2, 2011

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Nathan Lyon picked up four wickets, Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane, 2nd day, December 2, 2011
Nathan Lyon's haul of four wickets was an indication of the strong progress he's made since his debut in Galle © Getty Images
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Nathan Lyon and Daniel Vettori bowl with opposite hands, in contrasting fashions, and could not be further apart in the volume of their Test match experience. Yet their intelligence and application were at a similarly high level on day two of the first Test, as Lyon claimed the best figures by an Australian finger spinner at the Gabba in 80 years, and Vettori kept New Zealand in the match with a typically feisty 96.

After an eye-catching few overs on the first day, when he spun the ball on a moist pitch and could easily have had more than his one wicket, Lyon was rewarded on the second morning, and might have done better had Mitchell Starc not allowed himself to be diverted from a chance offered by Vettori. His loop, spin and bounce were beguiling, and maintained the strong progress he has made since a notable debut against Sri Lanka in Galle.

Just as importantly, Lyon responded to his coach Mickey Arthur's assertion that in his sixth Test, he needed to take a more senior role in the attack that has been reduced to four bowlers by the absence of Shane Watson's versatility. Cradling figures of 4-69, Lyon agreed he had been ready to step up.

"Yeah you could say that, I'm pretty confident with my own skill set and the way the ball's been coming out of my hand at training," Lyon said. "I've been working pretty hard, but saying that there's still a lot of work to do on my bowling as far as I'm concerned. I'm not going to settle there, I'm going to strive to get better and more consistent."

Much was made of Lyon's lack of Gabba experience, but he quietly pointed out that he has been playing at new venues all year, not only for Australia but South Australia, too.

"It's just like everywhere else I've played Test match cricket where I haven't played on any other venue," he said. "So it's just getting used to the conditions as quick as possible and trying to adapt. I certainly spoke to Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer especially."

"We had certain plans for certain batsmen, but Ricky was pretty big on me finishing my action, which is big for myself to get the revs on the ball and hopefully get the bounce out of the wicket, that's the big thing Ricky and myself spoke about. I was really happy with the way the ball came out of my hand, but there's still more work for me to do."

Vettori faced enough of Lyon during his innings to be impressed, describing the 23-year-old as aggressive in the best way.

"I think he looks like an aggressive spinner and I think that's what you want," Vettori said. "He's a guy who has the ability to take wickets and I think he bowled really well, he got some bounce and turn and he put pressure on us, particularly early yesterday. So that's what you want to see in a spinner and he did a great job.

"He flights it up and he bowls the occasional quicker one. It's what we all do. It is not always easy to face, but on this wicket I thought he bowled in the right areas and put some pressure on us."

Vettori made his own history when he took the new ball moments before lunch, the first spinner to do so at the Gabba since Bill O'Reilly during the Bodyline series in 1932-33. The gambit worked indirectly, as David Warner failed to adjust from spin to pace in time to avoid gloving a Tim Southee lifter.

"Warner on debut, the ball looked like it had spun a little bit, and as an opening batsman I guess you prepare to face fast bowling all the time, particularly at the Gabba," Vettori said. "So it was just trying to mix it up as much as we can, and we probably would have done it no matter what the situation, but it worked out well, one over before lunch and one after lunch."

Vettori's own batting has developed enormously over his long career, to the point that he can now be counted among the most dangerous No. 7 batsmen in the world, if hardly one of the most orthodox. He said the genesis of his improvement had been the fact he did not want to be cringing when reminded of his record.

"I was embarrassed with my own statistics," he said. "I thought I was a better player than that. I was probably a bit loose and probably a bit nervous when I went out to bat, and I tried to turn those things around, tighten up my technique and be a lot more positive when I walk out to the middle.

"It has allowed my game to flourish, be aggressive and hopefully put teams onto the back foot, because you see all the good players who've come in seven, eight or nine, they're always aggressive and take the game away from you. I tried to model myself a bit on that."

The only disappointment of Vettori's innings was the manner of its conclusion, a scampered single attempt allowing Michael Hussey to throw down the stumps. Vettori said he was more disappointed to have thrown away comfortable batting conditions than his seventh Test hundred.

"It was probably more about how batting was getting easier and easier," he said. "So to be dismissed in that manner was pretty disappointing because I thought Dean [Brownlie] and I could've batted for a long time."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 5, 2011, 7:02 GMT)

Besides a few childish comments about being able to read the future & predict how Lyon / India will perform... perhaps just watching him bowl should give an indication of his prospects... Seeing him live over 4 days at the Gabba, Lyons bowling style will suit the MCG, SCG & WACA so I would expect him to perform well... Adelaide will try him, but he knows it well so lets wait & see before bragging about how India or Oz will do... For me - watching Tendulkar get a 100 & Lyon a 5for will do me nicely for the Boxing Day Test ... thank you very much :) ...

Posted by Meety on (December 5, 2011, 3:03 GMT)

@Phil Andrews - spot on. Pup's captaincy has been nothing short of brilliant. @Bob Bardley - LOL! I agree!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2011, 5:01 GMT)

@Sinhaya - the only reason Lyon won't get a bag against the Indians is that there won't be enough Indian wickets left to take by the time he gets to bowl :)

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 3, 2011, 2:10 GMT)

Lyon, you will be mauled a part by the Indians! Wait and see. Sehwag, Kohli, Dravid will hammer a sixers galore off your mediocre bowling.

Posted by hhillbumper on (December 2, 2011, 21:51 GMT)

Gupta- Best batting line up in the world? Who do you mean? I thought they already played south Africa

Posted by   on (December 2, 2011, 19:30 GMT)

Am not sure if pup would field lyon when the Indians tour... lets see how lyon bowls and more importantly how much confidence pup has in his spinner in a month

Posted by Gupta.Ankur on (December 2, 2011, 18:04 GMT)

I think lyon is just enjoying his good days under the sun , playing against some mediocre players of spin.....

his real test awaits against the best batting line-up in the world.....

Posted by Peterincanada on (December 2, 2011, 16:39 GMT)

I agree with most of the comments. He hardly got to bowl against the top order because NZ were five down and he'd only bowled 5 overs at the time at about 1-14. Thank God he took out the tail because the others hardly looked capable of doing it. Also thank God they didn't go with four pacers. He has flight spin and bounce which usually means wickets. He also bowls good lines and if he has the temperament to handle being attacked by the better players of spin then he will be a fine bowler and stay in the side for a long time. I don't think NZ are very good players of spin so the final test will come when he faces the Indians. But my gut feel is that the Indians will respect him.

Posted by   on (December 2, 2011, 16:22 GMT)

It's true that Lyon is a great prospect but some credit has to go to Pup. It's great to see Punter's determination bringing rewards to his batting but as a captain Pup is a much better tactician and probably man manager. He has confidence in the spinner and this breeds success. Punter always seemed to be on the defensive, setting fields for the bad balls. Now if only Pup could fix Mitch's confidence! Cheers

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 2, 2011, 15:45 GMT)

dont get carried away its nz who he bowling at. jonesy2 was telling us yesterday the 2 pace bowlers were going to be superstars. hes not been in yet so maybe lyons going to get the teatment today. is it me but do u guys not thinks lyons looks like billy bowden but with less hair.hes his double by my old eyes. mind im waiting for new specs. dpk

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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