With no Lyon in India, Australia might struggle

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

By , Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Expert

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    I still can’t believe it. What, no Nathan Lyon in the squad for India? Sounds like “no, no, Nanette” to me.

    I know, I know. Australia will be playing ODIs and T20Is in India and Lyon succeeded in Tests in Bangladesh, but along with opener David Warner, he gave Australia the confidence that Australia can succeed on spin-friendly pitches in Asia.

    Like Indian spinners, Lyon opened the attack for Australia in the second Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong. He took 22 wickets at 14.31 in the two-Test series: 3-79 and 6-82 in the Dhaka (Mirpur) Test and an amazing 7-94 and 6-60 in Chittagong, the Test Australia won by seven wickets.

    Off-spinner Lyon became only the second overseas bowler to capture 13 wickets in a Test in Asia.

    The first one was England’s legendary all-rounder Ian Botham. In the Golden Jubilee Test against India in Mumbai in February 1980, fast-medium Botham took 6-58 and 7-48 besides scoring 114 as England won by ten wickets.

    No Australian bowler has taken 13 wickets in a Test in Asia. Lyon also took three consecutive f-fers against Bangladesh. And his reward?

    To be dropped from both the squads for India where spin’s the thing!

    Economy rates are more important than averages in ODIs and T20s, you might say, my quick answer: His economy rate in those two Tests was 2.35. That is, he conceded a measly 2.35 runs per over.

    His replacements for the spinning job are Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa who have little experience of spin conditions in Asia.


    (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

    Unless India drops a bombshell and produces grassy wickets for the five ODIs starting on Sunday the 17th September, Lyon will be sorely missed.

    The selection of the Indian squad indicates that the pitches won’t spin from the first ball as their spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are excluded from their ODI squad.

    Another surprise in the Australian squad is the dropping of Peter Handscomb. But, I agree that he is not a swashbuckling batsman like Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner.

    Handscomb’s success on turning wickets in Bangladesh should have been considered. When all Australian batsmen except David Warner and to some extent Steve Smith looked amateurish in both the Tests, Handscomb put his hands up scoring 82 (run out) despite heat exhaustion and an unbeaten 16 in the Chittagong Test.

    I can understand him being dropped from the T20 squad but I would pick him over Hilton Cartwright in ODIs. Australia’s squad looks like this.

    Captain Steve Smith, vice-captain and opening batsman David Warner, dashing opener Aaron Finch, wicket-keeper Matthew Wade, middle order bat Marcus Stoinis, sort of all-rounders Hilton Cartwright, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner and Travis Head, fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile and spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa.

    In ODIs Australia is ranked second behind South Africa. India is ranked no.3. So a victory in India could possibly take Australia to numero uno.

    It would be advantageous for Australia that an injury to a bowler during the tour match against Indian President’s XI starting today (Tuesday) results in Nathan Lyon catching a plane to India.

    Kersi Meher-Homji
    Kersi Meher-Homji

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.

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