Australia in India 2012-13 February 27, 2013

Bowling line-up a dilemma - Arthur


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 here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 1, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    I feel Australia should continue with Lyon in the next test... The pitch in Hyderabad is good for spin.. They should include Doherty In the squad in place of Stark! Stark was awful in the first test, wayward line and left arm round the wicket doesn't help in India... Siddle and Pattinson look good... I'd love to see Watson bowl on Indian pitches.. He can be a useful bowler, but may be, he won't.. Indian openers are not in good form.. I guess, Pattinson will be dangerous early on in the innings.. but i feel, Clarke should use him more! He didn't let him bowl many in the 1st innings in Chennai! (AN INDIAN SPEAKING)

  • Basil on March 1, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    @Meety, your comments back up my earlier comments. Lets give the coaching role to Boof and let's start moving forward. I also don't understand how Beer and Holland are next in line ....what have they done? OKeefe has 78 wickets at 27. By Australian FC records that is exceptional. He is NOT liked.

  • Chris on March 1, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    Australia didn't pick the wrong team. Team just did not perform,starc and Siddle were best bowlers this summer so I don't think anyone saw those performances coming. Only bad selection is wade not in the top 6 bats in Australia and not in the top 4 keepers, Chris Hartley is streets ahead of any keeper in Australia. How good would Australia be going if Hartley had kept for the last 12 months. A win in Adelaide and a spinner with confidence in his keeper if only. The keeper drives the team in setting example in the field wade looks like a club cricketer way out of his depth

  • Aaron on March 1, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    A few points: - Ashwin was playing on his home ground so his much improved performance from the England series is perhaps not that surprising; - Dhoni was playing at his IPL ground, and launched a t20 style assault on the Aussie bowlers - Lyon was turning and bouncing the ball as much as any of the Indian spinners for much of the test, especially mornings 3 and 4. However he couldn't maintain a consistent fuller length which was required. So long as doherty and the other bowlers can keep the pressure on at the other end, i reckon Lyon will take 10 wickets at Hyderabad.

  • Roo on March 1, 2013, 4:14 GMT

    The problem for Oz cricket is that we only have 6 FC teams, which means that only 6 spinners are likely to be getting a chance to show their wares... On top of this we have injuries to Holland & Beer whom would be short candidates for a Test call up while the leading spinner this summer O'Keefe has recently split the webbing in his hand for the 6th time in his career & will likely need surgery at seasons close... Seems many Oz bowlers have been going through a rough trot recently...

  • Roo on March 1, 2013, 4:11 GMT

    Not sure about Arthurs logic on pace taking most of the wkts - there were 4 seamers to 1 spinner... Starc & Siddle combined bowled exactly the same number of Overs that Lyon did, but only managed 1 wkt between them to Lyons 4 wkts... If anything Moises out bowled Mitch & Pete, putting pressure on both to hold their position against a 2nd spinner...

  • Andrew on March 1, 2013, 4:08 GMT

    @@emu1 on (February 27, 2013, 9:02 GMT) -We certainly wouldn't have done our job if we hadn't considered all options available to us," Arthur said. "We felt Xavier had bowled really well in the ODIs and Xavier we felt was probably the next one in line when Michael Beer (West Australian spinner) got injured. "I think we covered all bases in selection. We've looked at all possible bases for a team and we've got all the players here who we think could make a massive difference." - These words of wisdom are direct quotes from Arthus on the SO'K omission. Apart from the fact he doesn't really say why SO'K was not selected, it can be inferred that he/NSP believe that Doherty can make a "massive" difference & O'Keefe cannot. I would suggest if he is looking at "bases" he/Arthurs is in the WRONG sport!

  • Aidan on March 1, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    Far out 1-0 down - only need to win 2 matches for BG Trophy. "hhm should we rest our most effective bowler in the last who can bowl at express pace and often bowls with an upright seam, who also averages in the low 20s" - Of course it is logical". At least go for broke next two matches and if Aus win those matches- then rest the bloke; seriously this is ridiculous policy that is doing my head in. People watch cricket for these types of players. Did Argus really say - rest the best players, change the continuity of team in important must win games?

  • Mashuq on February 28, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    Well said @Samdanh on (February 28, 2013, 6:56 GMT) Someone even posted afterwards they missed Hilditch! If losing 4-0 to India would lead to selection based on performance allied to recognition of the prevailing conditions under which games are played, I'll take it. It's so damn frustrating listening to Inverarity and Arthur talk up players and then fail to pick them: case in point Haddin. Granted there were injuries to the preferred left armers, Beer and Holland, but Doherty! And how did Smith and Maxwell suddenly deserve consideration? Based on a gut feel? What about the palpably unfair treatment meeted out to Khawaja in comparison to Hughes? So the instances can be multiplied. Sadly I was disappointed but not surprised by what happened at Chennai. Aus might fight back (it's in the genes) but don't kid yourself about being a serious contender either in India or in England if such muddled thinking remains the metier.