Australia in India 2012-13 March 6, 2013

Lyon's role still up in the air


Nathan Lyon's immediate future in the Test side remains unclear after the coach Mickey Arthur indicated he had been disappointed with Lyon's season, not just his performance in the first Test. Lyon was dropped for the second Test in Hyderabad, and during the match Arthur said there were technical aspects of his game that Lyon needed to work on, as well as regaining confidence after collecting 4 for 244 in Chennai.

However, among those wickets was a beautiful delivery that turned through the gate to bowl Sachin Tendulkar before MS Dhoni began his vicious assault. Lyon's replacements, Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell, failed to collect a wicket on the second day of the Test when Cheteshwar Pujara and M Vijay ran away with the game, although they fought back the following day to claim seven victims between them.

Lyon had been Australia's first-choice spinner since his Test debut in Sri Lanka in 2011 and he took only one Test longer than Shane Warne to reach 50 Test wickets. But since the start of the Australian summer Lyon has had less impact, and in seven Tests during that time, he has collected 23 victims at the inflated average of 45.08. His best figures in that period were 3 for 41 against South Africa at the WACA.

"I think Nathan still has a massive future and he probably is up there as our best spinner at the moment, but you fluctuate in and out of form and he's learning the game at international level, which is a really tough gig for him," Arthur said. "He only played four first-class games before he played a Test match, he hasn't played many after that and truth be told he hasn't gone well this year.

"We persisted with him because we put a lot of faith into Nathan but there came a point where we felt he needed to be taken out of the team and allowed to work on the things that we think he should be working on outside of competition games. We will re-assess where he is but he is doing everything right, he is not lacking in any preparation."

Asked if it would be possible for Lyon to do enough before the third Test in Mohali to earn a recall, Arthur said: "To answer that truthfully, I'm not sure. We will have to have a look and see where he is over the next couple of days. I'm not sure on that, time will tell I guess."

Arthur's comments raise the possibility that Doherty might be retained for the Mohali Test, perhaps in partnership with Maxwell again or maybe as the sole spinner alongside a pace-heavy attack. Doherty turned a few balls past the bat on the second day as Pujara and Vijay put on their 370-run stand but few of his deliveries were seriously threatening until later in the innings and he finished with 3 for 131 from 46.1 overs.

Maxwell was costly on the second day and although he eventually broke the Pujara-Vijay partnership, by then India were well and truly in control of the match. He ended up with 4 for 127 from 26 overs, at an economy rate of 4.88, and his lower-order batting was not a factor either, with scores of 13 and 8.

"Doherty did what we know Doherty can do," Arthur said. "He ran in, he went at under three an over and he caused problems when there was stuff for him to work with. That was exactly Xavier Doherty. Maxi was probably a little bit too loose. He's taken four wickets, he's created opportunities, but he's gone at over four and a half an over.

"You need the two of them bowling in a partnership, you need the two of us being able to stop the game with our spinners and we weren't able to do that because Maxi leaked a little bit. There's a massive amount of potential in Maxi though. Do we go back to three quicks again? I think conditions will determine that when we get to Mohali."

The Australians took part in a centre-wicket training session on the Test pitch in Hyderabad on Wednesday, on what was supposed to be the final day of the match. The spinners and the fast men who didn't play in the Test, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc, did plenty of bowling. The Mohali surface is expected to offer a bit more bounce for the fast bowlers.

The squad will travel to Chandigarh on Thursday and will then have two days off to clear their heads away from cricket before resuming training on Sunday. The third Test starts on Thursday next week.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paul on March 8, 2013, 15:29 GMT

    well maxwell got 4 top order wickets and should have had a five for on debut if cowan didnt drop a sitter, doherty's wickets were only consolation tail end wickets. They need to give them both another chance though. I dont think any kind of selection changes will alter the result on those wickets at this stage. The batsmen just need to dig in and be patient if necessary like india are. India arent concerned with their run rate being 1.8 for 20 overs or so.They dont get flustered. It is a 5 day game. Just get a big total any way you can & create some scoreboard pressure. Hughes does need to go though

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    lets face the cold hard facts the Australian team has very little experience, particuarly in Indian conditions. N.Lyon had a dream start to his career. But now he has lost his bowling mojo. Flight and grip variations seem to be missing. He does not use the crease well and lacks confidence. This can happen to any spinner. But realistically his figures over the last 6 months have not been flattering. The batting seems in dissaray with the exception of M.Clarke, who is receiving little support. My choice to open would be Warner and Watson, remembering their job is to get the team off to a good start. M.Clarke should bat at 3 ( time to shore up that position )

  • Tim on March 8, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    So basically what Mickey Arthur is saying is that Lyon is out of the side because he leaks too many runs, not because he is not taking enough wickets, and Doherty is in the side because he can keep an end tight and go for under three an over, whether or not he takes wickets, and that Maxwell is in danger because he is going for too many. My goodness, is it any wonder that the only spinner of note in South Africa during the Arthur years was Paul Harris, the perfect example of "keep an end tight and any wickets are a bonus" player. Forget about Australia having attacking spinners with that mindset, I pity Lyon.

  • Mick on March 7, 2013, 23:35 GMT

    @FFL: So true mate. Could you pass on some specialist English advice about seam bowling. I mean, your guys are really towelling up the mighty Kiwis right now aren't they? Oh... hold on. Scrap that.

  • Patrick on March 7, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    Lyon in for Maxwell, Patto will probably have an enforced lay-off so Johnson is due his chance, if there's bounce then keep Patto on light duties or bring back Starc. The Indians have not been under pressure since Tendulkar survived Lyon's convincing appeal on Day 2 of the series, Aust need to overcome their instinct to drive the pace of the game, cricket in India is a bake off, not a pie throwing contest (hence Maxwell not required).

  • Anupam on March 7, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    @Posted by anilkp on (March 6, 2013, 20:04 GMT) Bhajji falls on wicket column and also because Ashwin is in paradise. Ashwin is not a good bowler but that heaven pitch give him the crown. Jadeja bowls beautifully. about Kreja i gave you the 3 stats for judging. maidens are less but his stats did't show the tight bowlng OK but if you were watched that match then you understand that whenever required he delivered on that match. and also check out the dismissals buddy.

  • Morgan on March 7, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Disappointing stuff from Arthur here. Lyon would have had a much more productive summer with a competent gloveman behind the stumps. Very worried that Lyon will get forced back to bowling defensively and ultimately have his career ended for not taking enough wickets. It feels like a scapegoat is being prepared for what has so far been an ignominious tour for Aus.

  • Nicholas on March 7, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    Some of you guys must be Indian players if you're recommending that Oz go with 3 spinners

    We dont have one decent one atm let alone 3

    @Front-Foot-Lunge - why would Oz select a spinner to take advantage of reverse swing?

  • V.L on March 7, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    To be honest Maxwell was pretty alright. You cannot expect a debutant to deliver instantly on conditions alien to him. He did will to comeback on day 3. Dropping him now would be the worst decision the Aussies can make now. Doherthy wasn't that bad either and he kept things pretty tight. Aus may be better off playin both Lyon and Doherthy along with Maxwell as an allrounder. If you back them to do well, they will get better. Dropping spinners after one game or two is the mistake CA has made time and again. Kreza, Hauritz etc., have all disappeared the same way. Pattinson and Johnson should comprise the pace attack. Johnson's experience in these conditions and his ability to reverse swing would be the key for them if they are to bounce back and atleast put up a fight if not win.

  • ian on March 7, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    If Lyon has 'technical aspects to work on, as well as regaining his confidence', as reported here, I take it that everyone else, esp. the batting bar the captain, is technically sound & has no confidence deficit! It's beginning to look as if there is another agenda re: Nathan Lyon.