Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide January 21, 2012

Lyon turns to Ponting for advice

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Nathan Lyon is tuning up for his return bout against India's spin conversant batsmen at Adelaide Oval with Ricky Ponting as his chief source of advice in the nets.

John Inverarity, the national selector, has indicated that Lyon will play for Australia in Adelaide, granting him another chance to scheme for success against India after claiming only one tail-end wicket in each of the first two Tests of the series.

After an eye-catching debut in Sr Lanka, where he took five wickets in his first innings, and significant contributions against South Africa and New Zealand, Lyon's classical offspin has not made the same impact against the Indians, a common problem for many international tweakers when faced by batsmen raised on a steady diet of slow bowling and dusty pitches.

Demoted to drinks duties in Perth, Lyon spent much of his spare time in the nets, and is redoubling his efforts in Adelaide with Ponting as his most pointed advisor as he tries to find the right blend of subtle variations to fool the trained eyes of the visitors.

"I'm just trying to keep executing my stock ball to the best of my ability," Lyon said. "Of course changes of pace and natural variation all come into it, but I've been working hard with Ricky Ponting especially on my bowling in the nets and bowling to him, because I find him one of the best bats to bowl to in the nets.

"A couple of days off there missing out on the Test in Perth was a great opportunity for me to work on my bowling, batting and fielding. I used all that time possible that I could use to make myself a better player."

Ponting's influence on Lyon is intriguing, given his checkered history with spin bowlers while captain of Australia. The national team has cycled through no fewer than 11 slow men in the years after Warne's retirement, and all have had varied relationships with Ponting.

Jason Krejza and Bryce McGain were two to be cast aside rapidly after difficult days in the field, while Nathan Hauritz's moderately successful time in the team came to an end following the 2010 India tour during which he was convinced by Ponting to try to change his bowling action and angle on the crease midway through the Mohali Test, which ended in a narrow defeat.

After the match Ponting said he had been trying to get Hauritz to change his methods almost from the moment of his recall to the team in 2008.

"When he first came back into the side back in South Africa I worked with him long and hard then about trying to get him to create some different angles for a batter and that's talking through a batsman's eyes and what makes it hard about facing off-spinners," Ponting said after the Mohali match.

"The angles that he creates are slightly different to the angles that some of the great offspinners create, like Harbhajan and Murali, if you look at the angles that Nathan creates and where he releases the ball and the shape he gets on the ball compared to what Harbhajan does it is chalk and cheese."

Lyon has enjoyed a far more lengthy run of Test matches and a more solid demonstration of faith from the new captain Michael Clarke and the national selectors, but would dearly like to have a greater impact on proceedings at Adelaide Oval, his home ground.

"I'm pretty positive this one is going to go five days and it's going to be a pretty hard tussle for us," Lyon said. "The pitch is only going to get slower and lower, so hopefully it'll have a little bit more turn out there for me.

"It's just been a great challenge for myself, being a young spinner and bowling against the best batters against spin. Their hands are unbelievable and they're really confident against spin, so it's a great challenge for myself and I'm loving every moment of it.

"I still have clear plans with Pup and always for myself try to be an attacking spin bowler and try to take wickets, but in this series against the Indians our quicks have been doing the damage, so I haven't had the opportunity really to bowl long spells and get in as it's been a couple of short Test matches. Hopefully if I get the nod out here I'll be able to bowl a few long spells and see where we get to."

The inclusion of Lyon will be at the expense of one of the four fast bowlers who rushed through India at the WACA ground, with a decision still to be made on which of Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris or Mitchell Starc will miss out.

"The big thing is our quick bowlers are bowling fantastic and I'm 100% behind them," Lyon said. "They've been getting the job done, which has made my job easier, I haven't really had to do much bowling. I'm still confident in my own skill set and we'll see how we keep going."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | January 24, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    lyon wickets against the lankans wow. india is playing test cricket badly but still unbeatable in ODIs no doubt. but look at the lankan they were playing sooo bad test as well as odi. and lyon wickets against SL is comes just bcoz SL is playing below cricket than bangladesh & zim.@kavindeven. LYON IS not the worst bowler some fans beliv that lyon is the best spinner in the present world.but a/c to me in LYON's period Oz is not known for legend like warne but known for most worst spinner is also from Oz.

  • POSTED BY on | January 22, 2012, 17:07 GMT

    Nathan, is turning to Ricky Ponting for advise on spin bowling a very good move ? Lets face it you didnt have to spin the ball to get Ricky out, all you needed to do was to bowl from a four or five steps and needed to spin your fingerĀ“s and you had your man. Ask Harbhajan he will tell you the same ....

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | January 22, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    Why on earth would Lyon turn to Ponting for advice? Ponting had no success whatever in bringing on spin bowlers once Warne (who didn't hide his contempt for Ponting as a captain) retired. Since his debut, Lyon has had exactly one match where he might be said to have made a significant contribution; the second test against South Africa where he had match figures of 4-109 (in the first test he took no wickets). His haul against New Zealand included exactly one top 7 batsman in the four innings, although he was a demon against Chris Martin. Does Australia really need someone to get just tailenders out? Lyon came to test cricket with no credentials and I'd suggest he really needs to go back to Shield cricket and bowl a thousand overs to learn his craft. Having Ponting tell him what to bowl in the nets isn't going to do it.

  • POSTED BY on | January 22, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    I think Lyon should be given further encouragement. I like his attitude and his bowling will only improve given more experience and confidence. I think Clarke and Haddin have proved helpful to him with confidence (an aspect of Haddin's role in the team often gone unnoticed) - Haurie is a great spinner too and unfairly dealt with... I think Australia needs to keep encouraging the likes of Haurie, Lyon and even perhaps Beer and Krejza... all of have something to offer... O'Keefe too surely much be looked at too... anyway, Lyon is the current guy and should be supported... I admire his approach to all aspects of his game - even his batting! The best No.11 I have even seen!

  • POSTED BY Gizza on | January 22, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    Both Swann and Lyon struggled heaps against India actually. England and Australia are lucky that the Indian batsmen about under-12 kids level against decent swing and pace bowling since it has masked over the cracks in their spin bowling stock. The wickets which they have taken are either tail-enders or due to the pressure built up on the other end. The opposite happened when someone like Warne or Murali bowled. Warne would build pressure from his end. Then if the next over was loose a Gillespie, Lee, Fleming, etc. could still snatch a wicket. It was even more apparent with the Sri Lanka medium paces especially Vaas who relied on Murali a lot. Going back to the original topic, this defensive approach may not work when England or Australia tour India. They're better off using 4 pacers. The old West Indies team and more recent South Africans won Tests in India through sheer pace.

  • POSTED BY Cric12345au on | January 22, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    @Eli Mahendra 3 tail-enders, Sangakarra first ball and matthews,who scored so much runs that series. Expecting him to get his next 5-for in Adelaide.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | January 22, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    Superficially - this would seem a weird move, give Punter's recent track record with captaincy of spinners. That being said it was mentioned his advice is coming from a batsmen's POV. There is another article which sort of talks about similar things.

  • POSTED BY ali00 on | January 22, 2012, 3:01 GMT

    i would rate Lyon as the best spinner since shane Warne and he is our subcontinent specialist spin bowler and remember when he made his debut at Sri lanka where he took five wicket and in his first delivery he go rid of Kumar Sangkara

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | January 22, 2012, 2:33 GMT

    @Kavindeven: This article was about Lyon, not Ashwin !! LOL ..... Personally I don't care if Lyon can only get the tail-enders out because, lets face it, the current Indian tail starts at about 4 or 5....

  • POSTED BY Hodra99 on | January 22, 2012, 0:08 GMT

    @Kavindeven....poor comment. Lyon is one off spinner in the world who still flights the ball. He does turn the ball significantly. He is a great prospect who will take many many wickets for Australia in the years to come. By the way when you refer to a 'sub-content', I can only assume you are referring to your own comments....

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | January 24, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    lyon wickets against the lankans wow. india is playing test cricket badly but still unbeatable in ODIs no doubt. but look at the lankan they were playing sooo bad test as well as odi. and lyon wickets against SL is comes just bcoz SL is playing below cricket than bangladesh & zim.@kavindeven. LYON IS not the worst bowler some fans beliv that lyon is the best spinner in the present world.but a/c to me in LYON's period Oz is not known for legend like warne but known for most worst spinner is also from Oz.

  • POSTED BY on | January 22, 2012, 17:07 GMT

    Nathan, is turning to Ricky Ponting for advise on spin bowling a very good move ? Lets face it you didnt have to spin the ball to get Ricky out, all you needed to do was to bowl from a four or five steps and needed to spin your fingerĀ“s and you had your man. Ask Harbhajan he will tell you the same ....

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | January 22, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    Why on earth would Lyon turn to Ponting for advice? Ponting had no success whatever in bringing on spin bowlers once Warne (who didn't hide his contempt for Ponting as a captain) retired. Since his debut, Lyon has had exactly one match where he might be said to have made a significant contribution; the second test against South Africa where he had match figures of 4-109 (in the first test he took no wickets). His haul against New Zealand included exactly one top 7 batsman in the four innings, although he was a demon against Chris Martin. Does Australia really need someone to get just tailenders out? Lyon came to test cricket with no credentials and I'd suggest he really needs to go back to Shield cricket and bowl a thousand overs to learn his craft. Having Ponting tell him what to bowl in the nets isn't going to do it.

  • POSTED BY on | January 22, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    I think Lyon should be given further encouragement. I like his attitude and his bowling will only improve given more experience and confidence. I think Clarke and Haddin have proved helpful to him with confidence (an aspect of Haddin's role in the team often gone unnoticed) - Haurie is a great spinner too and unfairly dealt with... I think Australia needs to keep encouraging the likes of Haurie, Lyon and even perhaps Beer and Krejza... all of have something to offer... O'Keefe too surely much be looked at too... anyway, Lyon is the current guy and should be supported... I admire his approach to all aspects of his game - even his batting! The best No.11 I have even seen!

  • POSTED BY Gizza on | January 22, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    Both Swann and Lyon struggled heaps against India actually. England and Australia are lucky that the Indian batsmen about under-12 kids level against decent swing and pace bowling since it has masked over the cracks in their spin bowling stock. The wickets which they have taken are either tail-enders or due to the pressure built up on the other end. The opposite happened when someone like Warne or Murali bowled. Warne would build pressure from his end. Then if the next over was loose a Gillespie, Lee, Fleming, etc. could still snatch a wicket. It was even more apparent with the Sri Lanka medium paces especially Vaas who relied on Murali a lot. Going back to the original topic, this defensive approach may not work when England or Australia tour India. They're better off using 4 pacers. The old West Indies team and more recent South Africans won Tests in India through sheer pace.

  • POSTED BY Cric12345au on | January 22, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    @Eli Mahendra 3 tail-enders, Sangakarra first ball and matthews,who scored so much runs that series. Expecting him to get his next 5-for in Adelaide.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | January 22, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    Superficially - this would seem a weird move, give Punter's recent track record with captaincy of spinners. That being said it was mentioned his advice is coming from a batsmen's POV. There is another article which sort of talks about similar things.

  • POSTED BY ali00 on | January 22, 2012, 3:01 GMT

    i would rate Lyon as the best spinner since shane Warne and he is our subcontinent specialist spin bowler and remember when he made his debut at Sri lanka where he took five wicket and in his first delivery he go rid of Kumar Sangkara

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | January 22, 2012, 2:33 GMT

    @Kavindeven: This article was about Lyon, not Ashwin !! LOL ..... Personally I don't care if Lyon can only get the tail-enders out because, lets face it, the current Indian tail starts at about 4 or 5....

  • POSTED BY Hodra99 on | January 22, 2012, 0:08 GMT

    @Kavindeven....poor comment. Lyon is one off spinner in the world who still flights the ball. He does turn the ball significantly. He is a great prospect who will take many many wickets for Australia in the years to come. By the way when you refer to a 'sub-content', I can only assume you are referring to your own comments....

  • POSTED BY Vincent49 on | January 21, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    How many times has ponting been out to harbajan? ...so the guy knows what gets him out. If he says change your angle; u change your angle.. If thats not enough... Maybe everyone thinks ponting doesnt have enough international experience to qualify him for such advice. Has he not faced enough high class spin balling?

  • POSTED BY playitstraight on | January 21, 2012, 23:12 GMT

    I think what Lyon meant was that he would turn to Warne for advice, not Ponting.... I mean Punter's a good bowler and all but he just isn't a guy who you would go to for bowling tips. I can understand why he was dropped for the third Test, but surely Clarke and Invarerity wouldn't choose him again! The Australian wickets aren't suited for spinners, it is very clear. Lyon will be a handful on the subcontinent, though. Taking the current no.1 Test batsman for your first Test wicket off your first ball says it all.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 22:06 GMT

    I really hope Lyon gets a decent run, he's still got a way to go and Indians sorted him out quickly, which of course they should have. Watched him bowl in Sydney, really impressed...and I'm a Kiwi!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    @Kavindeven, obviously you've never seen him bowl. He always flights it, and pitches it up, and has had some close calls against top-order batsman this series. He turns it more than Hauritz can ever dream of. Did you watch him in Brisbane vs NZ? Or any match against SL?

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    It's easy to feel sorry for Hauritz. He was the one incumbent the selectors stated they would retain, but then he gets injured and his replacement takes 5-for in his debut.. I think the Indian fans here need to see more of Lyon, but it's definitely true that against their batsmen Lyon has been looking like he's bowling at brick walls.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    great thinking by the greatest bowler

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 19:42 GMT

    It should be noted that Lyon's five wicket debut against Sri Lanka also included four tail enders.

  • POSTED BY hfkml on | January 21, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    @kavindeven Nathan Lyon might not be the best (yet), but he has a lot of flight and tosses the ball up a lot. He deceives the batsman with trajectory and turns the ball a lot. He already thrashed the Sri Lankan batsmen in the Sub-continent. If you don't believe me type Nathan Lyon big bash or Nathan Lyon 5 wickets on youtube.

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | January 21, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    WELL I WAS JUST THINKING THAT INDIA HAVE DONE ALL THINGS FOR GET HUMLIATED BY AUSTRALIA IN THE THREE TESTS . YOU MEAN LIKE GETTING OUT FOR 160 AT MELBOURNE & SYDNEY . TAKING ONLY ONE WKT FOR 800 RUNS . AUS MAKING 650 WITH LOSING ONLY 4 WKTS , LOSING AGAIN BY INNINGS IN PERTH . WHAT CAN HUMLIATE INDIA MORE ??? THE ANSWER THAT CAM TO MY MIND IS A 5 WKT HAUL FOR NATHAN LYON .

  • POSTED BY Beertjie on | January 21, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    Those are harsh words, @Kavindeven. I lile the comments from @LillianThomson about the effect of DRS on spinners success. Food for thought. Lyon is developing and by the time of the Ashes he may become better. However, a second spinner needs to be given some exposure as part of a development plan; e.g., at SCG next year against Sri Lanka I'd like to see Steve O'Keefe/Cameron Boyce given a go (possibly in tandem with Lyon). It's only when we acquire a wicket-taking spinner to complement our pace battery that we can regain the #1 spot (not on paper, as England and India have done, but through victories/drawn series, both home and away). Of course we need a few new batsmen coming through, too, if we are to succeed in this goal.

  • POSTED BY Romenevans on | January 21, 2012, 15:40 GMT

    He is one of the worst off spinner i have ever seen. No flight, No Deceiving with trajectory and no spin at all. He is just a runs container, who'll be thrashed in sub-content. DONE! BORED! PERIOD.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    Aussies after winning 3 consecutive matches against India are now in a position to experiments in test format, since they won test series by 3-0, they will try to find out Shane Warne's replacement. An excellent off break spinner can turn the matches around. The examples are Saqlain Mushtaq, Murli, Ajmal. So far Lyon's average is not good enough to say he's match winner but can be because this time Indians are under pressure to save their faces from White Wash 4-0. My advice for Indian selectors are to have batsmen in Test matches ,they should be separated from T-20 format, have a separate keeper for test specialist, The bowlers who are successful in T=20 format can never necessary to have successful in Test format. Please drop Ishant Sharma averaging worst than any part time bowler 37.04 runs per wicket, instead of him Irfan Pathan is hell better with better average. Search for replacement of Anil Kumble, then the team would be fairly balanced.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 12:22 GMT

    Asking Ponting for bowling advice is like asking Dhoni for batting advice, doesnt work

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    Nathan Hauritz. I would be a dumb move to get Lyon, Hauritz is amazing :)

  • POSTED BY Buggsy on | January 21, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    Yeah, turning to Ponting for spin advice is not a good move. His management of spin post Warne has been dreadful and is one of main contrasts between him and Clarke. I don't think anyone in Australia is sold on Lyon but at least under Clarke he stands a chance.

  • POSTED BY AidanFX on | January 21, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    @ AKS286 I have only two words: 3-0

  • POSTED BY farkin on | January 21, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    Lyon turns to Ponting for advice that is your first mistake and your 2nd is this one is going to go five days

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    all of them....knows WHO IS THE ACTUAL ;DON:????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | January 21, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    STEVEN SMITH & LYON are unbelievable spinners they are the best among the rest LoL. good to see LYON & HARRIS in adelaide test that who will take more than 2 wickets. SIDDLE & HILFY tough time to you all guys becoz HARRIS & LYON both are in the squad. i think good to see that who will take the wicket of umesh yadav LYON OR HARRIS .

  • POSTED BY Kolpak1989 on | January 21, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    I really hope Lyon takes a few in the upcoming test. He is a good spinner and I think Australia would do well to persevere with him. It takes a few series to turn a good first class spinner into a first class test spinner. I really hope he can get there.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | January 21, 2012, 7:37 GMT

    The problem for both Lyon and Ashwin was exposed at Dubai in the PAK v ENG Test. With DRS, off-spinners get 30% more wickets as they win lbw decisions when batsmen use the time-honoured subcontinental technique of using the pad while pretending to play a shot. Without DRS, Indian and Pakistani batsmen appear to "master" spin bowling, but with DRS they are as exposed as any other batsmen. So both Lyon and Ashwin are likely to bowl 40-10-125-2 at Adelaide without DRS, whereas with DRS they would probably bowl 40-15-75-3. This probably also explains India's difficulty finishing off both New Zealand and West Indies in recent home Test series - the lack of DRS is making their spinners easier to bat against.

  • POSTED BY nzcricket174 on | January 21, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    if the selectors drop him they truly are dumb he has great talent he is having a rough time against india as HAVE ALL SPINNERS. Even Murali was taken apart on several occasions by Sehwag

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | January 21, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    haurtiz moderately successful? he was probably the best spinner in the world when he was dropped. as for lyon, well he has had hardly any overs and hasnt had to take wickets in the first two tests. a big bag awaits at his home ground

  • POSTED BY Captain_Oblivious on | January 21, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    You'd have to question the courage of these Indian batsmen who spend their careers bullying spinners and medium pacers on dead wickets, then surrendering meekly against fast bowling. Expect a good batting performance on the flat Adelaide track.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | January 21, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    Lyon should not be punished because the Indians can't bat for 5 days.

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  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | January 21, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    Lyon should not be punished because the Indians can't bat for 5 days.

  • POSTED BY Captain_Oblivious on | January 21, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    You'd have to question the courage of these Indian batsmen who spend their careers bullying spinners and medium pacers on dead wickets, then surrendering meekly against fast bowling. Expect a good batting performance on the flat Adelaide track.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | January 21, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    haurtiz moderately successful? he was probably the best spinner in the world when he was dropped. as for lyon, well he has had hardly any overs and hasnt had to take wickets in the first two tests. a big bag awaits at his home ground

  • POSTED BY nzcricket174 on | January 21, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    if the selectors drop him they truly are dumb he has great talent he is having a rough time against india as HAVE ALL SPINNERS. Even Murali was taken apart on several occasions by Sehwag

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | January 21, 2012, 7:37 GMT

    The problem for both Lyon and Ashwin was exposed at Dubai in the PAK v ENG Test. With DRS, off-spinners get 30% more wickets as they win lbw decisions when batsmen use the time-honoured subcontinental technique of using the pad while pretending to play a shot. Without DRS, Indian and Pakistani batsmen appear to "master" spin bowling, but with DRS they are as exposed as any other batsmen. So both Lyon and Ashwin are likely to bowl 40-10-125-2 at Adelaide without DRS, whereas with DRS they would probably bowl 40-15-75-3. This probably also explains India's difficulty finishing off both New Zealand and West Indies in recent home Test series - the lack of DRS is making their spinners easier to bat against.

  • POSTED BY Kolpak1989 on | January 21, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    I really hope Lyon takes a few in the upcoming test. He is a good spinner and I think Australia would do well to persevere with him. It takes a few series to turn a good first class spinner into a first class test spinner. I really hope he can get there.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | January 21, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    STEVEN SMITH & LYON are unbelievable spinners they are the best among the rest LoL. good to see LYON & HARRIS in adelaide test that who will take more than 2 wickets. SIDDLE & HILFY tough time to you all guys becoz HARRIS & LYON both are in the squad. i think good to see that who will take the wicket of umesh yadav LYON OR HARRIS .

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    all of them....knows WHO IS THE ACTUAL ;DON:????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY farkin on | January 21, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    Lyon turns to Ponting for advice that is your first mistake and your 2nd is this one is going to go five days

  • POSTED BY AidanFX on | January 21, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    @ AKS286 I have only two words: 3-0