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February 27, 2013
The coach Mickey Arthur has conceded that in hindsight Australia might have made a mistake by not picking two spinners on a Chennai pitch that crumbled as the Test wore on. However, Arthur said that even after the match, it was difficult to assess what difference a twin spin attack would really have made, given that most of Australia's wickets came from pace and Nathan Lyon ended up with match figures of 4 for 244.
The question of whether to include Xavier Doherty as a second spin option for the Hyderabad Test will be one of the major discussion points for Australia's selectors over the next three days. Another will surround the workload of James Pattinson, the most dangerous of the fast bowlers in Chennai, where he finished with six wickets for the match, the first time an Australian fast man had claimed so many in a Test in India since 2004.
The team management are conscious of Pattinson's propensity to break down and having bowled 33 overs in hot conditions in Chennai in his return to international cricket after suffering a rib injury, they will consider the best way to handle him over the four-Test series. Regardless of whether Pattinson plays in Hyderabad, there will be debate over the makeup of the attack, and Arthur said the spin question would not be easy to answer.
"That's going to be the million dollar question," Arthur said. "It's easy in hindsight having a look at how the wicket ended up, you probably would have liked two spinners on there, however, our quicks took most wickets. We didn't get a massive return from spin in this game. I thought James Pattinson was outstanding, so it's a difficult dilemma.
"I think going to Hyderabad we'll have to look at conditions before we make a proper decision. Looking at the way it ended up probably two spinners [would have been good] but our quicks were the most likely out there, so I am not sure which way really."
One thing Doherty would provide if selected is the ability to turn the ball away from the six right-handers that make up India's top and middle order. Monty Panesar was effective in that regard during the Test series in India late last year, although with 596 first-class wickets at 30.22, Panesar has a vastly superior record in the long form to Doherty, who has 122 victims at 44.56 and is not renowned as a big spinner of the ball.
But the vast majority of Lyon's Test wickets have been right-handers - 47 as compared to 18 left-handers - and Arthur said that on difficult pitches turning the ball in to the batsman and making him play was not a bad thing. It remains to be seen whether the Australians decide they need spinners turning the ball both ways.
"I think on wickets like this balls turning into you are just as effective, because you've actually got to play," Arthur said. "You can't leave balls alone. Balls coming into the bat on wickets that have crumbled are almost as tough to play. Ideally you want both, and I did a lot of looking at the England series and they used Panesar a lot.
"You use the left-armer a lot more in the first innings here because you get a lot more control from your left-armer. But when the wickets start breaking up, your off-spinner to the right handers becomes dangerous because you've got to keep playing him all the time. Ideally, it would be nice to have the pigeon pair."
Lyon, Doherty, Arthur and the captain Michael Clarke were all part of a conference on the field after the loss in Chennai where Shane Warne, who is commentating on the series, discussed spin with the group. Some words of advice from Warne would have been especially useful for Lyon, given that Warne also struggled in India during his career. Arthur said the first Test had been a steep learning experience for Lyon.
"I think he has learnt from this game that you have got to be really consistent in conditions like this in order to put the batsmen under any sort of pressure, but I think he will grow and he will learn from this game," Arthur said. "It will be interesting to see how he pulls up after this Test match and in terms of information and preparation and everything he worked extremely hard coming into this Test match. Only he knows how he will approach things if he plays in the next Test match and how that is going to go."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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