Australia’s sticky spin situation

Brian Zhang Roar Rookie

By Brian Zhang , Brian Zhang is a Roar Rookie

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    Nathan Lyon is stoked he's in the one day squad (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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    Nathan Lyon, for the last 18 months, has been Australia’s no.1 spinner. He has made a steady start to his career.

    After 19 Tests, Lyon has 61 wickets at an average of 32. At 25 he has a long career ahead of him, however there are still critics and journalists out there who criticise him.

    He has copped it for not being able to take wickets in the second innings of a Test match especially on spinner-friendly tracks, and also for bowling too fast and too straight.

    But a lot of people forget the greatest leg spinner of all-time, Shane Keith Warne didn’t have the greatest start to his career either. He averaged 50 in his first eight Test matches until his average dropped down below 30 after the ’93 Ashes.

    Obviously people will think I’m living in a different world comparing Lyon to Warne but like Warne, he can only get better.

    And there is no greater place to do that than India which is always has spinner friendly pitches. Lyon will have the chance to permanently lock in a spot for the back-to-back Ashes series if he bowls well.

    If Lyon can take 20 or more wickets in the four Test series, he will seriously establish himself and become Australia’s best spinner since Warne.

    He will also do something that not even the great Warne could do. Usually India favours all types of spinners, but not Warne. He “only” took 42 wickets in India at an average of over 40.

    For now, Lyon seems safe for probably the next couple of seasons as Australia don’t seem to have a second choice spinner who has performed convincingly at first-class level.

    Since Warne’s retirement, there have been a dozen spinners tried and only two have been somewhat successful: Nathan Hauritz and Nathan Lyon.

    A dislocated shoulder in the second ODI against England in 2011 at Hobart ended Hauritz’s career and although heavily criticised at times, he could consider himself one of the unluckiest Australian cricketers.

    His record of 63 wickets at 34 was better than any spinner who had been tried since Warne. But now, he seems nowhere in the minds of selectors.

    When Australia had Warne, they still had a second-choice spinner in Stuart MacGill. MacGill for most of his career lived in the shadow of Warne, but still managed to take 208 wickets at 29 with a best of 8/108 in 44 Tests.

    He never was going to be better than Warne but always was chosen whenever Warne was injured or suspended. With Lyon looking to establish himself as the no.1 spinner, Australia need a second spinner in case Lyon does injure himself at any point.

    Michael Beer was named alongside Lyon during the West Indies series as the second spinner and played in the second Test.

    He picked up 2/56 in the first innings but never really looked threatening as Lyon took 5/68. In the two Test matches he has played, he has picked up three wickets at 60 with an appalling strike rate of 135.

    The other choices include Stephen O’Keefe, Steve Smith, Jon Holland, Glenn Maxwell or even Xavier Doherty. With most of those candidates other than Holland being all-rounders, Doherty may be the one to go to.

    In the two Tests Doherty has played, he has taken three wickets at 102 with a strike rate of 151. Since then he has been thrown out of Test contention.

    But his short form stats are far more respectable with 45 wickets at 34 with a strike rate of 43. He may have to improve on his 44 average for Tasmania but if Doherty can finish the season strong both for Australia and Tasmania, he could earn a recall sometime in the next 12 months.

    Both Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar did extremely well and both took over 20 wickets for the series. Nathan Lyon will need someone else to assist him when bowling as it seems unlikely he can rip through a top or middle order.

    But if he has a second spinner to bowl in partnership with, he can devise a plan to get out a batsman.

    The Indian series will be a huge test for Nathan Lyon’s ability and it will determine whether he is capable enough of becoming Australia’s no.1 spinner.

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • Roar Rookie

      January 25th 2013 @ 11:17am
      josh said | January 25th 2013 @ 11:17am | ! Report

      It should be O’Keefe. Defensive spin bowling is a waste of everyone’s time in Tests.

    • Roar Guru

      January 25th 2013 @ 11:30am
      TheGenuineTailender said | January 25th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

      Lyon will retain his place for some time to come. Had Matthew Wade held a few catches and not fumbled a couple of stumpings, Lyon’s summer would look vastly better. We’d probably all be saying how Lyon will match it with Swann and Panesar. He’s a good bowler and creates chances.

      Steve O’Keefe has to be the next man in line. Probably as a second spinner when conditions call for it. He’s the only spinner in Australia with a respectable first-class record and adds handy lower order runs. SOK should be going to India and then on to the Ashes as Lyon’s deputy.

      This talk of Xavier Doherty getting a recall is just plain stupid. He’s never done anything in the Sheffield Shield. What has he done to deserve a test call up? Taken a three-for in an ODI is hardly knocking the door down. He’s probably one of the worst players to have worn the baggy green in recent memories. He shouldn’t even be in the one day team. He bowls straight break darts that my mother could slash through the covers for four.

      • January 25th 2013 @ 4:24pm
        Richard said | January 25th 2013 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

        Funny comment! his burst against srilanka was a major factor in winning the game. They were cruising until he came on, are you saying your mother is better than Jayawardene at playing spin. To get the captain at that moment was sensational. Also his partnerships with Starc at the end of the innings have been extremely usfull. Clarkes team would have looked like even greater gooses if it hadn’t been for them. Xavier is a competitive cricketer with the right attitude and he hasn’t done much wrong this summer in the odi’s against great players of spin bowling.

        • Roar Guru

          January 25th 2013 @ 6:11pm
          TheGenuineTailender said | January 25th 2013 @ 6:11pm | ! Report

          Her footwork is akin to that of Michael Clarke.

          There’s something about Xavier Doherty that I really just despise. It’s probably got beyond the point of rational…

          • January 25th 2013 @ 8:48pm
            Richard said | January 25th 2013 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

            Sounds like it. Next time you are a major factor in winning a game for Australia your opinion might carry some weight,
            He is not in the team for his looks. Kerry O’keefe likes him a lot, not that necessarily means anything 🙂 but he was a spin bowler for Australia

        • January 25th 2013 @ 6:51pm
          Calf Jocks said | January 25th 2013 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

          I’m with TGT, the guy bowls off breaks not off spinners.

          I think the reason the dart thrower gets wickets is purely because batsmen get out trying to smash the cover off the ball, Chandimal’s wicket was pure stupidity and Glen Mcgrath would have played it better than that.

          He hasn’t done much wrong, but let’s face it, he hasn’t done much right either.

          It’s got me buggered how he’s still in there, must be a great bloke.

          • Roar Guru

            January 25th 2013 @ 7:43pm
            TheGenuineTailender said | January 25th 2013 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

            Off breaks? More like straight breaks…

          • January 25th 2013 @ 9:15pm
            Richard said | January 25th 2013 @ 9:15pm | ! Report

            So ripping out the top order in a crucial must win game for Australia isn’t “doing much right” in your book!? We weren’t defending a high total and that cruelled thier chase, they mounted a counter attack that looked threatening but they just didn’t have the wickets in the shed. Glasses raised to Xavier I say. Perhaps Bailey knows how to get the best out of him, especially on their home ground

    • January 25th 2013 @ 11:55am
      Timmuh said | January 25th 2013 @ 11:55am | ! Report

      TGT, I have to disagree on Doherty in the one day team. He’s a solid one day bowler and rightly considered the likely spinner for the world cup; but I agree that at this stage he should not be considered for the Test squad.

      You are right that Lyon could have had much better returns with a competent wicketkeeper, and he is probably the best bowler we have. And, with Beer unavailable, O’Keefe has to be the second spinner for India. Before that it was a close call.
      Unless there is a pitch which looks a raging turner on day one Aus probably shouldn’t play two spinners, but two have to be taken in case that need arises.

      • Roar Guru

        January 25th 2013 @ 12:19pm
        TheGenuineTailender said | January 25th 2013 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        There’s just something about Doherty that instils a complete lack of confidence in me that he will succeed when under the pump. If it were up to me, Nathan Lyon would be playing all formats, lets not forget he rose to prominence initially in the Big Bash, as a T20 bowler. He could easily play all three formats for Australia.

        Seeing Doherty disappear into the stands at the world T20 last year made me think his time had finally come. But he’s been picked for the two T20s against Sri Lanka as well. He just seems the least likely match winner we could possibly pick. He’s there to be mediocre and just do his job, which isn’t what I expect of international players. His game is far too one dimensional for me.

        I think that two or three tests in India will likely call for two spinners. The Indians made no secret of their desire to serve up some rank turners as some sort of immature pay-back strategy for their demise on our fair wickets last time they toured. They did just that with England’s recent tour, still didn’t work for them though…

    • Roar Rookie

      January 25th 2013 @ 12:10pm
      tra said | January 25th 2013 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

      How was Hauritz’s 63 at 34 better than Lyon’s 61 at 32, remembering Lyon is younger, less experienced and before his prime in the the world of spin bowling?

      • January 25th 2013 @ 12:15pm
        john said | January 25th 2013 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        if you read it carefully, brian said “at the time” so he probably meant before Lyon came in

      • January 25th 2013 @ 12:30pm
        Jason said | January 25th 2013 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

        Their career trajectories were going in opposite directions.

      • January 26th 2013 @ 1:38am
        Jake said | January 26th 2013 @ 1:38am | ! Report

        Because Hauritz took more wickets in less Tests. Pretty self explanatory really.

    • January 25th 2013 @ 3:00pm
      Red Baron said | January 25th 2013 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

      Has the idea of having a compulsory spinner in our domestic comps that have to bowl a limited percentage of the total overs each innings ever been floated?
      Would really help develop our spinners a little more and put all teams on a level playing field. Plus I reckon it would make the games more exciting.
      Come on Spinner!!!!

    • Roar Rookie

      January 25th 2013 @ 3:09pm
      DavisCup229 said | January 25th 2013 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

      I’m all for having Lyon in the squad. He can bowl well but he doesn’t rip the ball. Not everyone does. His main aim is to bowl a tight line and length while controlling the flight. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets to 250 test wickets

      • January 25th 2013 @ 6:54pm
        Calf Jocks said | January 25th 2013 @ 6:54pm | ! Report

        I think he’s being coached to do that, when he first came on the scene the ball moved a lot and he flighted it a lot more.

        Someone mentioned to me earlier in the year they heard Clarke yelling “good pace Gary” so he’s being told to bowl like that.

        For me that’s a real worry.

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