India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 2nd day March 3, 2013

Arthur backs Lyon despite axe

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Coach Mickey Arthur has said Australia's axing of Nathan Lyon for another spinner for the first time in his Test career does not mean he has lost the confidence of the selectors.

Lyon was left out of the Hyderabad Test after taking 4 for 244 in Chennai and instead the team relied on Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell for its spin requirements, a plan that by the end of the second day had failed to bring a wicket as M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara dominated proceedings.

The only other time Lyon had been left out since making his debut in Sri Lanka in 2011 was against India at the WACA in January 2012, when four fast men were chosen on a bouncy pitch. Arthur said Lyon needed to work on some technical aspects of his game after the Chennai defeat and also had to regain his confidence after being battered by MS Dhoni during his remarkable double-century.

"Nathan and I have spoken at length about the summer he's had," Arthur said. "Nathan is going to be a very good spin bowler bowler for Australia. It doesn't mean we don't back him anymore, we just think it was the right time after Chennai just to give him a little bit of a break. He had a couple of technical things that we wanted to work on a little bit away from the game but still being on tour, which we've done, and we are confident he will bounce back really strong.

"We also felt he needed to come to terms with a couple of things and he's done that. He was ill yesterday and didn't come to the ground but he was here today and he'll get his strength up. I don't want to go into what we are working on. There are one or two technical things plus we want him to get a little bit of confidence back."

Arthur said the rationale behind choosing Doherty was that Australia wanted a spinner who could turn the ball away from India's top six, all of whom are right-handers. Maxwell, he said, was chosen as a backup spinner who could also offer plenty with the bat and in the field. At stumps on the second day, Doherty had taken 0 for 85 and Maxwell had 0 for 55.

"We thought the Indian middle-order played the offspin particularly well in Chennai," Arthur said. "We wanted somebody who could turn it away as our primary resource, which gave Xavier an opportunity. I thought he went very well today, he toiled manfully. He went about three an over which was pretty decent. Xavier gave us what we know Xavier can.

"Glenn was always going to be the other option. We felt that we would have another spinner and if we had another spinner, we wanted a guy who would bring more to the party. He was another allrounder, a guy that could bat eight and bat deep for us and give us something in the field. That's what we want with Maxi primarily as the second spinner."

Arthur conceded that Maxwell had bowled "not very well today" but hoped he had learnt a lot from the experience of working against such good players of spin. Maxwell, Doherty, Lyon and the batting allrounder Steven Smith were the spin options in Australia's squad, while the leading Sheffield Shield spinner this season, Steve O'Keefe, was overlooked. O'Keefe has 17 wickets at 26.76 this summer and took eight in a match just before the squad was picked.

"Stephen O'Keefe has got a really good record," Arthur said. "Xavier Doherty bowled outstandingly well for us in the one-day series against Sri Lanka. Michael Beer would have been here if he didn't get injured. That caused us to reshuffle a little bit. We picked Xavier over Stephen primarily because we thought Xavier was bowling exceptionally well, which he was in the one-day series at that particular time."

Not that Australia's dire situation after two days in Hyderabad was all down to the bowling. The batsmen let the team down severely on the first day by stumbling to 63 for 4 before Michael Clarke and Matthew Wade rescued them from embarrassment. Still, Australia's 237 for 9 was already looking paltry a day later when India went to stumps at 311 for 1.

"We had a pretty tough chat with our batsmen this morning because we thought they'd probably wasted a bit of an opportunity yesterday," Arthur said. "I do think we should have got more in our first innings without a doubt."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Samdanh on March 4, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    One of the most unacceptable and un-professional reasoning provided for not bringing along Steven O'Keefe - ""Stephen O'Keefe has got a really good record," Arthur said. "Xavier Doherty bowled outstandingly well for us in the one-day series against Sri Lanka. Michael Beer would have been here if he didn't get injured. That caused us to reshuffle a little bit. We picked Xavier over Stephen primarily because we thought Xavier was bowling exceptionally well, which he was in the one-day series at that particular time." Will any balanced mind consider performance in ODI's for selection to play in Tests? Looks like the coach is designing for Aus to fail from growing from the loss of its veterans and ACB is a mere spectator

  • dummy4fb on March 4, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    Well, if anything, someone finally actually mentioned SOK. So at least they have actually heard of him!

  • dummy4fb on March 4, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    Complete trash from Mickey Arthur. Either he has no influence on selection decisions, or his is trying to put Lyon's axing as nicely as he can. If he was truly backing Lyon's ability, then he would pitch for him to keep playing. It was a matter of working with him in the nets and formulating a plan, which he could then put into play in Hyderabad. Playing a second rate spinner in his place, especially one with an ordinary first class record (Doherty) was definately not the right play - if Australian domestic batsmen can take him to pieces, then what hope does he have against Indian batsman who are regarded as much better players of spin.

  • zenboomerang on March 4, 2013, 3:37 GMT

    In the 1st Test Lyon bowled 52.5 overs for 4 wkts with econ @4.64 - not great but did his job that neither Siddle or Starc could do - same number of overs for just 1 wkt... So they replace him with Doherty & Maxwell whom have managed 36 overs for 0 wkts @3.88 - one extra batsman/bowler for zero effect... While Lyon managed 14 runs to Doherty Maxwell's 13 runs... To me, that works out that Lyon is more effective as a wkt taker & run scorer that the combined duo of the X Factor & the Big Thing... Perhaps Clarke should just look for Test players & not the "hit & giggle" showmanship brigade...

  • zenboomerang on March 4, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    @Shaggy076 :- "Mike Husssey obviously noted this with handing him (Lyon) control of the song"... You may have hit on something there - perhaps Clarke new before the start of the match that no one would be needed to sing the song... Hmm, amazing what an IPL contract does to your decision making - i.e. not bowling Pattinson properly when on top of Ind in the 1st Test, them making him the most used seam bowler once they got on top... Then stuffing up the squad for the 2nd Test - maybe someone needs to be swabbed?... :P ...

  • joseyesu on March 4, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    Nobody would have expected such a strange selection from Aus. Leaving out Lyon is one thing and bringing in Maxwell as an allrounder tag. I would have prefered Lyon and Doherty to go together and support each other.

  • Marif4 on March 4, 2013, 2:59 GMT

    Arthur is from South Africa & he should learn from Gary Kirsten, who did everything even without involving media, on the other hand Arthur is always in media. I heard a lot of his dialogue when India visited them in 2012, A good coach or player will focus on their work not on Media, take the name of any good player who even involve media at all, Dravid/Sachin/Graeme smith/Michael Clark/Stephen Fleming, Cook, Andy Flower & so on.

    Cricket is a game of day, if you have bad day or bad time, a great player like Sachin will get out on zero or will lose a very simple catch, same thing happened with Lyon, he should have been given one more chance. Good to see Australian like this as they had been dominating the world cricket for a very long time.

  • aracer on March 4, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    Has nobody on cricinfo noticed that Lyon will shortly step aside permanently as Australia's leading spinner in favour of Fawad Ahmed? Your spin cupboard isn't actually quite as bare as it seems (or at least it won't be in a few months time).