Australia’s spin stocks will undergo a thorough examination on the subcontinent before an Ashes showdown with England duo Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.
Nathan Lyon again failed to deliver a bagful of wickets, taking just two scalps in the final Test against Sri Lanka on a turning SCG pitch.
It raises alarm bells with Australia’s full Test schedule this season likely to feature spin-friendly wickets – starting in India in February before moving on to England.
England recently completed their first Test series win in India since 1984, an achievement built around the dual spinning brilliance of Swann, who finished 2012 as Test cricket’s second-most successful wicket-taker, and Panesar.
And with Australia’s spin stocks at an all-time low – and a pace attack brimming with outstanding, if brittle, young talent – the belief is England will move away from the grassy wickets of old this year.
Australia’s powerbrokers on Sunday acknowledged the spin deficiency, with captain Michael Clarke saying it was at the forefront of areas that needed to be addressed.
“There’s certainly areas where we need to continue to get better at,” he said.
“Spin bowling’s probably one of those areas.
“In a couple of months time we’re going to be faced with conditions that do spin a lot. There’s no better place to get better than in the subcontinent.”
National chairman of selectors John Inverarity said Australia lacked depth in the spin department and would look to improve that by taking two back-ups, one to be Glenn Maxwell, to India to support Lyon.
“We’re pretty clear on our options,” Inverarity said.
“We certainly wish to have a greater depth of quality spin bowlers than we have but we’ve got a pretty clear direction of where we’re going, in terms of India and beyond.
“I won’t say now (who those options are). We’ve got pretty good options. There are two or three players that we’re considering to backup Nathan Lyon.”
Maxwell was desperately unlucky not to be make his Test debut against Sri Lanka in Sydney, but Inverarity made it clear his star was on the rise – and a trip to India beckoned.
“We’re certainly hoping Glenn Maxwell develops as a batting all-rounder who bowls decent offspin,” Inverarity said.
“He’s a very talented player who we think is likely to improve on a fairly steep incline.”
When asked if Australia had missed a trick by overlooking Maxwell for the SCG Test, giving him valuable experience ahead of the India tour, Clarke stayed true to his decision to pick four fast bowlers.
“To me playing Test match cricket is not about presenting opportunities. It’s about winning,” Clarke said.
“Our goal, after losing to South Africa, was to win this series 3-0.
“And we thought that was the right eleven to win this Test match.”