India v Australia, 1st Test, Chennai, 5th day February 26, 2013

Won't rush judgment on spinners - Clarke


Michael Clarke has said Australia's selectors won't rush to judgment about whether a second spinner is required for the second Test in Hyderabad after their eight-wicket loss to India in Chennai. On a pitch that took turn from day one it was not surprising that India's spin attack was one of the most dominant forces of the game, and the three of them - R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja - took all 20 Australian wickets.

But Australia's frontline spinner Nathan Lyon picked up only four victims for the match, while eight came from the fast bowlers - six to James Pattinson and one each to Peter Siddle and Moises Henriques. Lyon was at times threatening, but also leaked far too many easy runs. He was milked for singles by all of India's middle-order batsmen and was especially vulnerable against MS Dhoni, who scored 104 off the 85 balls he faced from Lyon.

The left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty is the other specialist spinner in the squad and Clarke was impressed with the control he displayed in the tour match against India A, when he took 3 for 108 from 24 overs. However, Clarke would not be drawn on whether Australia had made a mistake by choosing a pace-heavy attack for the Test and he said better bowling from those who were picked might have helped Australia to a different outcome.

"Australian spin took three wickets in the first innings, fast bowling took a lot more," Clarke said. "That doesn't mean to say that playing three fast bowlers and a medium-pace allrounder, we got that right. We need to assess, we need to look at conditions again and work out what we think is the best XI [in Hyderabad]. It's not just about selection, it's about how you perform, I don't think we bowled well enough in our first innings and we certainly didn't bat well enough in our second innings.

"You can talk about selection as much as you like but the 11 players you select have got to perform better than we did in this Test. Look at the amount of wickets fast bowling got compared to spin for the Australian team. We are not India. We are a different team, we have different fast bowlers to the Indian fast bowlers and we have different spinners to the Indian spinners."

Traditionally, Australia's spinners have not enjoyed Test cricket in India as much as the conditions suggest they should, partially because of the different style of bowling required and in part because India's batsmen are generally strong against spin. Richie Benaud and Ashley Mallett had fine records in India, although their tours were during the 1950s and '60s, when the Indian team was not the dominant force at home that it has become.

In more recent times, Australia's spinners in India have at best been serviceable in India. Shane Warne, who after the Test met with Clarke, coach Mickey Arthur, Lyon and Doherty for a 20-minute chat on the ground, managed only 34 wickets at 43.11 in his nine Tests in the country. Lyon finished his first Test in India with match figures of 4 for 244 and Clarke said he hoped Lyon would learn from the experience and deliver greater consistency throughout the rest of the trip.

"He's got to stay positive," Clarke said. "He bowled plenty of overs so he has seen the conditions a lot more. He got a couple of really big wickets for us. 'Lyno', like all of our attack, I thought he bowled really well in patches. We've just got to keep working on that consistency. There are plenty of positives out that for Lyno. It's nice to see him get a wicket in the second dig as well."

However, while Pattinson was outstanding in collecting six wickets for the match - the first Australian fast bowler to do that in a Test in India since Jason Gillespie in Nagpur in 2004 - he and Lyon could have used some more wicket-taking support from Siddle and Mitchell Starc. Virtually no deliveries moved off the seam and reverse swing played less of a role than Australia had hoped, but Clarke wanted more patience from his stock bowlers.

"They tried everything," Clarke said. "I think our execution wasn't as disciplined as we need, especially when the wicket's good for batting like that. You need to be really patient and be able to build pressure. We did that at stages but not as consistently as we needed to."

Whatever Australia decide for the Hyderabad Test, which starts on Saturday, they will have at least three pace options after the strong debut from Henriques with the bat made it impossible for him to be dropped. Although Henriques claimed just one wicket, he was the only batsman besides Clarke who looked at ease in the conditions and scored 68 and 81 not out, the best aggregate on debut by an Australian since Clarke in 2004.

"If we don't have a third fast bowler Moises can certainly do that role," Clarke said. "I think it's very exciting the way he has started. He's been a very talented player for a long time back in Australia but it's nice to see that potential come to the forefront in his first Test match. I think he looked very comfortable with both bat and ball. That's exciting for Australian cricket going forward and very exciting for Moises."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aidan on February 28, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    I agree with some here - don't blame Siddle. He has been the most consistent bowler in Australia for the past few years. Evry bowler has times it does not go their way. Pattinson, however, has the potential to be a world leader and actually I don't think he is far away - exciting given how young he is. Please Australia, PLEASE DO NOT REST HIM!. I am of the view Lyon should be persisted with. But Maybe Aus should bring in either Maxwell or Doherty for Starc - No judgement on Starc who I also think is a real gem. The fact he is strong, can swing the ball both ways as a left armer and bowls quick he is a gem also - but in terms of this series he may need to sit out. I would also like to see the Australian bowlers go for the pitched up line and length. Most of the wickets in the first innings were "bowled" - let's not talk about "back of the length" bowling. Pattinson led the way.

  • Subba on February 27, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Pattinson is due for a break down next Test. He bent his back a lot more than ever. His pace will be down now.Siddle should make way for another spinner.The pacers dont know how to bowl on these wickets so a left armer Doherty could do the trick. However, the Aussies are shaken in self belief.

  • Ray on February 27, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    As a neutral, who in an ideal world would have both teams losing(!), I find the apologists' excuses for Lyon very thin: He took 4 wickets - 2 fairly meaningless in the context of the match - for tons on what was commonly agreed to be an extremely spin friendly ptich. Add in that he has taken 23 wickets@40 odd in his last two series and it would suggest that he is 'ordinary'.

    What happened to Hauritz? At least, he looked like he might bowl the odd good ball?

  • Hitesh on February 27, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    Its really going to be a big challenge for the Australians. England did have quality spinners in Swann and Panesar. And they have Cook and Petersen who can bat for longer hours. In case of Aus, it seems that only clarke is capable of batting for longer hours while they do not have a single quality spinner(forget about including two in the playing squad)... I think, Aus should change the batting order, Warner-watsoon should open the inning , clarke should bat at no4 and henriques should also bat up in the order. If Jhonson is included in the XI, that will boost the Performance as he has good record in sub-continent plus he can score some runs as well!

  • Dummy4 on February 27, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    So many people complaining about Siddle, Australia`s best and most consistent, fast bowler over the last 3 years. The young pace attack look up to him for guidance, where Mitchell Johnson, is a one pitch wonder who needs very favourable bowling conditions, or he sook`s. Pattinson bowled superbly, Siddle bowled very well, and accurate without luck, Starc is a young strapping fast bowler on his first trip to India. It was not the Aussie bowlers who let down the team, but the batsmen, Cowan, Watson, and Hughes, were all shocking in this Test Match. Aussie`s had the chance too make 500 plus, in the first innings, but these 3 keep letting Australia down. If 3 of your top 4 batsmen, keep failing, your going too lose most of your matches. Cowan and Hughes average in the low 30`s, and Watson about 35, if Watto`, cannot play as an all-rounder, he is just not good enough as a batsman only. My opinion, is, we need at least 3 more consistent batsmen!, `Don`t Blame The Bowlers`,

  • Daniel on February 27, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    Bring Johnson into the side and watch him break a few more hands. That'll secure a win for us :)

  • David on February 27, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    @ AdoSR. I you do, as you suggest, remove Lyon's figures then you will have to remove his wickets too! That of course would be something you'd reconsider after SRT & co passed about 800!

    You simply can't reinvent history. All the ifs and buts and so on are pure conjecture, and have absolutely no relevance. Accept the result, and move on. Your post-mortem is simply making the corpse smell even more rotten.

  • David on February 27, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    @ Mary_786 I'm a little surprised at your assertion that "But then again we (Australia) prepare the best green tops when other teams come here." It would take an enormous stretch of the imagination to describe as "green tops" the Gabba and Adelaide Oval pitches prepared for South Africa in 2012, unless of course Australia has taken to painting it's roads green? Preparing a true green top, not a painted one, for the Saffa bowlers will certainly get results. Perth is a fine example.

  • pradipto on February 27, 2013, 8:24 GMT

    Australia must play Doherty in Hyderabad in Siddle's place and should take the positives from the 1st Test. It will be another dust bowl for sure, as we know we can only beat a good cricket team on such tracks.Unfortunate but true...

  • Viraf on February 27, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    So pathetic was the Aussie bowling, Clarke may as well play eleven batsmen. And the one decent bowler - Pattinson - is scarred so bad, the Aussies are contemplating giving him R&R. You may as well give the women's team a go, atleast they won a World Cup two months ago.