Pace, not spin, the key to defeating India

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    James Pattinson is running out of time to get his body up to Test standards. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

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    If Australia believes picking an extra spinner is the solution to overcome Indian batting order, they are a long way off the mark.

    India has rarely lost at home over the past two decades and when they have succumbed to a foreign team it has been largely due to the fast bowlers.

    To be precise, India has lost 16 Test matches at home in the last 20 years, which means opposition teams have managed to take 20 Indian wickets 16 times. Of those 16 losses, the spinners have managed to take greater than seven of those 20 wickets on only three instances.

    To drill further down, only one of these three instances has come in the last decade and that was on a pitch which would have made the Chennai dust bowl look like an Adelaide oval on day one.

    India has only been outdone by pace and even when England played two quality spinners last year, they won the Calcutta Test on the back of 11 wickets taken between James Anderson and Steven Finn.

    Australia’s other option is to play a left arm spinner instead of Nathan Lyon. This move will benefit Australia largely due to the fact the Indian top order are armed with plenty of right handers.

    However, this is a theory Michael Clarke believes there is not much merit in:

    “To be honest personally I don’t think it matters too much. Playing against India they are good players of spin and when you have good players of spin it means they are equally comfortable playing against the ball spinning in and leaving.”

    Contrastingly, Indian skipper MS Dhoni thought playing two off spinners against the left-handed Australian top order gave them a benefit:

    “When you have a spinner that takes the ball away from you he becomes an asset because he can attack the stumps all the time and also be helpful to contain the batsmen when the ball isn’t turning too much.”

    They are completely different theories but, given the result of the Test match, Dhoni’s theory looks to be correct. Indian spinners took all 20 wickets and only five wickets fell to bowlers spinning the ball back in, while 15 yielded to the ball spinning away.

    Perhaps there is a case for Xavier Doherty but history suggests not both. Hyderabad might not be a dust bowl as Chennai, with the red clay content unlikely to be seen, but be assured the pitch dished out will have turn and, to make things worse, it will be quick turn.

    If that is the case, Doherty will rank higher than Lyon.

    The way Clarke addressed the media after the match, chances are Australia will cave in to playing the two spinners, a method which does not work based on India’s defeats at home over the past two decades.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • February 27th 2013 @ 4:07am
      Johnno said | February 27th 2013 @ 4:07am | ! Report

      Problem is our best spinner is at home, heck no i’m not talking about Warney, Warney is there already he was talking to the boys, after the match for 20 minutes, Pup said half jokingly your welcome to play in the 2nd test. I tell you what you could do a lot worse, i’d still prefer Warney to Xavier Doherty or Steve Smith. Even if he could only bowl 15 overs a day they would be quality, and Warney is much better at test cricket than T20.
      But O’keefe and Adger needs to be there, .
      Iver’s last played test cricket in 1972, 40 years ago, Ian chapel and channel nine commentary team’s era, Dennis Lllee etc.
      Iver’s seems out of touch, some of his selections are more baffling than Andrew Hildtich, and Trevor Hohns lasted 10 years as chairman, in retrospect he got a lot of flack, but he was better than these 2.

    • February 27th 2013 @ 6:41am
      Red Kev said | February 27th 2013 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      Pace might be the key, but according to the news the selectors are going to rest Pattinson because he’s “coming from a low base” and they are worried about him breaking down again. I do love Inverarity – best bowler? Let’s rest him!

      • February 27th 2013 @ 8:20am
        Varun said | February 27th 2013 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        Wow resting Pattinson, that would be joke

      • Roar Guru

        February 27th 2013 @ 1:11pm
        TheGenuineTailender said | February 27th 2013 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        Wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what happens. But if they get medical advice he could break down, just like in the 2012 New Years Test, ignore it and play him and he gets injured, what would we all be thinking then? Especially if it results in him missing the Ashes.

      • February 27th 2013 @ 5:15pm
        Kev said | February 27th 2013 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

        I nearly fell off my chair when I heard that. It’s not like Clarke was flogging him throughout this test either. He only bowled in 2 or 3 over spells for a total of around 30 overs for the entire match. I’m all for putting bowlers in cotton wool if they are that injury prone but that can go against them as well if the player doesn’t get enough match fitness.

    • February 27th 2013 @ 6:48am
      AndyMack said | February 27th 2013 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      Sorry mate, but i totally disagree. We need 2 spinners. If one gets belted a couple of times out of the ground, we can give the other one a go, rather than continuing to have spinner #1 belted. The idea of playing Moises as the all rounder was surely to allow him to be the 3rd seamer and allowing 2 spinners in the side.

    • February 27th 2013 @ 8:13am
      Jay said | February 27th 2013 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Agree to an extent.

      India have a habit of creating pitches that best benefit them against the team they are playing. That means that this pitch which historically is a little bit more pace friendly than the last will likely be just as spin friendly.

      We needed two spinners in the last test match and Nathan Lyon was found to be not good enough. He bowled too fast, too flat and without much useful variation. He bowled as though shell shocked.

      I’ll reserve a definitive opinion till I know what the deck will be like in the 2nd test but I am thinking having the second spinner (or perhaps just dropping Lyon) may be needed if we are to win.

      I also question the premise in the article of Paceman being the key. As I imagine (without delving into the games), the wickets from the quicks came from constant applied pressure by a spinner at the other end.

      • February 27th 2013 @ 3:02pm
        matt h said | February 27th 2013 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

        As well it would be interesting to se whether in those games where paceman have taken the majority of wickets, whether those visiting teams were playing 1 or two spinners. Whether we have three or four pacemen won;t make a lot of difference. It’s the quality that counts.

      • February 27th 2013 @ 5:48pm
        St Mark W said | February 27th 2013 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

        Even if your ‘constant applied pressure by a spinner’ idea is correct, does Australia have two spinners that that can constantly apply pressure?

    • February 27th 2013 @ 8:33am
      arthur fonzarelli said | February 27th 2013 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      Pick 4 quicks. Bowl relentless line and length, set defensive fields and at least keep the run rate manageable.

      Playing a second spinner is inviting a pure massacre and the likelihood of India scoring 600 at 4 an over. At least 4 quicks will restrict the scoring rate.

      The Indians eat second rate spin for breakfast. They are far less comfortable against quality pace, even on dustbowl wickets.

      3-215 at 4.5 an over from our “best” spinner is hardly cause to add our 2nd or 3rd best spinner to the mix.

      Pattinson’s 5-96 is much more appealing. Siddle and Starc bowled OK too, without luck. Pattinson got the breaks this time.

      • February 27th 2013 @ 1:07pm
        mick the clown said | February 27th 2013 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        Hi Arthur,

        agree with most of what you said however: Lyon is not our best spinner.

        He is about spinner no. 4 in my line up (3rd worst Australian bowler in terms of runs conceded in an innings) What does this say about Michael Clarke’s captaincy that he continues to select a non performer, but worse continues to bowl an obviusly out of form spinner to the point where he gets 200 runs against him.

    • February 27th 2013 @ 9:13am
      Timmuh said | February 27th 2013 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      If O’Keefe or Beer were in the squad, two spinners might work.
      As it is, we have decent-to-good quicks and only one spinner worthy of a game (Lyon, and plenty doubt him as well). Even in the most spin-helpful of conditions our quicks will outperform our spinners more often than not, at least against good players of spin.

      Starc would be the only one to come out of the bowling line-up for mine, but with Bird coming home that only leaves Johnson, Doherty, Maxwell and arguably Smith as options. None of those can come in and be expected to perform any better than Starc’s dismal effort, so while he should come out, he can’t.

      The side for the second Test may have to be the same as for the first, simply because there are a lack of options – overall in Australian cricket, and also with what I view as a poorly selected squad compounding the problem.

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