Nathan Lyon should be in Australian ODI side

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Why is Australia's best spinner continually ignored in the shorter forms? (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

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    If Australia wants to win next year’s World Cup, it needs an effective spinner in its 50-over side. Four of the top seven-ranked ODI bowlers are tweakers.

    Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal, West Indian Sunil Narine, India’s Ravindra Jadeja and Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath each are their team’s most valuable bowlers.

    The ability of these spinner to act as both a runsaver and a wicket taker in the middle overs of an innings is invaluable.

    Last year Doherty took just seven wickets at 66 in his 14 matches.

    He has been afforded generous opportunities in ODIs the past three years, but an average of 39 after 51 matches is not even close to acceptable.

    Far from developing with experience as an ODI player, Doherty has manifestly gone backwards.

    At 31 years old, with 12 years of List A cricket behind him, it seems extremely unlikely he is going to improve to any great extent.

    The Tasmanian struggles to beat batsmen either in the flight or off the pitch. For a spinner that renders you all but impotent.

    Because Doherty gets very little work on the ball, he cannot make his deliveries drift or drop on the batsman, or bite off the pitch.

    Players can skip down the wicket to him with comfort. His only variety is a slider which hurries on to the batsman.

    As a traditional off-spinner in the mould of the recently-retired Graeme Swann, Lyon too does not have much variety.

    He does, however, have one sizeable advantage over Doherty which was evident throughout the Ashes – his ability to defeat batsmen in the flight.

    This was the most glaring difference between Lyon’s offerings and those of Swann.

    The Aussie imparted heavy overspin on the ball, which not only made his deliveries dip on batsmen but ensured he extracted the maximum level of bounce from the wicket.

    Doherty, similar to Swann in the Tests this summer, bowls with too great a degree of side spin.

    As a result many of his deliveries just skid on, which allows batsman to hit through the line with greater confidence than against a spinner who is making the ball drop and leap off the surface.

    As joint-hosts of the next World Cup in just over a year, Australia are well place to regain the trophy which they won three times in succession from 1999 to 2007.

    The Australian selectors must swiftly move on from Doherty and allow Lyon to adapt to a format in which he has limited experience.

    Lyon’s critics will fairly point to the fact that he hasn’t performed well in 50-over cricket at State level, having snared just 29 wickets at 37.

    But he is one of those players who takes his game to another level in international competition, as he has shown in Test cricket.

    There were calls for him to be overlooked for the Ashes when he returned just 10 wickets at 35 in the Sheffield Shield prior to the start of the Test series.

    Lyon quickly stamped his class by playing a pivotal role in the first Test and going on to comprehensively outbowl England’s much more experienced and highly-rated spinners.

    Calls for Lyon to be given a crack at ODIs have previously been met with concerns from some pundits and fans that it would harm his Test bowling.

    Yet all of the best Test spinners of the past two decades have played significant roles for their nations in the 50-over format.

    If anything, exposure to more aggressive batsmanship should make Lyon a better-rounded spinner.

    A degree of his success against England this summer stemmed from the fact the visiting batsman were too timid to knock him off his line and length.

    By comparison, the Australian batsman launched a blitzkrieg on Swann and Monty Panesar which neither veteran could withstand.

    Lyon’s lowest ebb as a Test cricketer came in the first Test against India Chennai last February.

    Indian skipper MS Dhoni smashed Lyon for 104 runs from 85 balls in the first innings of the match as he caned a match-winning double century.

    Lyon clearly was unaccustomed to encountering such belligerence, largely because of his lack of experience in international limited overs cricket.

    If he is to take the next step and become an elite Test spinner, he must learn to deal with the aggression which he will face when bowling to the likes of Dhoni, Virat Kohli, AB de Villers and Hashim Amla.

    To me, dumping Doherty for Lyon is a no brainer which could improve both Australia’s ODI and Test prospects.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (111)

    • January 10th 2014 @ 5:18am
      dan ced said | January 10th 2014 @ 5:18am | ! Report

      O’keefe? Even bloody Clive Rose. Doherty is benign and boring. He. And Mckay simply do not do it for me. Zero X-factor. Id rather bowl Maxwell than X if I were captain.

      • January 10th 2014 @ 7:52am
        Robert said | January 10th 2014 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        “OKeefe?” is EXACTLYwhat came to mind for me

      • January 10th 2014 @ 9:38am
        Matt F said | January 10th 2014 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        O’Keefe is actually a pretty poor one day bowler, as his Ryobi Cup record demonstrates.

        McKay may not be the most exciting bowler to watch but his performances in ODI cricket show that he is very effective in the format

        • Columnist

          January 10th 2014 @ 12:03pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | January 10th 2014 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          O’Keefe’s record in List A is abysmal – in 51 games he averages 67 with the ball.

    • January 10th 2014 @ 6:08am
      peeeko said | January 10th 2014 @ 6:08am | ! Report

      the continued selection of xavier doherty astounds me

      • January 11th 2014 @ 9:31am
        Shmick said | January 11th 2014 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        I agree. He’s the luckiest player on the list.

    • January 10th 2014 @ 7:32am
      jameswm said | January 10th 2014 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      I’d leave Lyon playing red ball cricket. He has a tendency to get too fast and full. He is a very good test spinner when he gets his loop, and gets his line right (he has a tendency to go to the right).

      Until he can prove he can swap between formats and not lose his effectiveness, he should stick with red ball cricket.

      • Columnist

        January 10th 2014 @ 6:25pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | January 10th 2014 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

        I actually think playing ODIs may well improve Lyon’s Test bowling and make him more versatile and crafty.

      • January 10th 2014 @ 8:51pm
        ChrisB said | January 10th 2014 @ 8:51pm | ! Report

        Yes, but he can’t very well prove if he can switch between formats if he’s not actually being picked in one of the formats, can he? That’s the point of the article.
        I agree with the previous poster who said Maxwell was a better option than Doherty. Maxwell and Lyon could be a decent ODI spin attack.

        • Columnist

          January 10th 2014 @ 10:35pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | January 10th 2014 @ 10:35pm | ! Report

          Exactly Chris he deserves to be given a crack. Doherty has had basically a 3-year run in the side and has averaged 38…time for someone new.

    • January 10th 2014 @ 7:37am
      Lancey5times said | January 10th 2014 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      The problem seems to be the lack of an X. Both Maxwell and Xaviour have an X in their names where Nathan has a less eXciting Y.

      I say moving forward we refer to Nathan as ‘X (The Bowler Formally Known as Lyon)’

      Or just ‘Symbol’

      • Columnist

        January 10th 2014 @ 12:04pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | January 10th 2014 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

        I always wondered what they meant when they said Maxwell had the X factor…

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2014 @ 9:26pm
          Jack Smith said | January 10th 2014 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

          Who is this Maxwell fellow? I know X, his name has now been replaced with the Big Show…

          • Columnist

            January 10th 2014 @ 10:37pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | January 10th 2014 @ 10:37pm | ! Report

            Maxwell is on the record as saying he dislikes that Big Show nickname and I’m not surprised, it’s pretty ordinary.

    • January 10th 2014 @ 7:38am
      Jammel said | January 10th 2014 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      Yes but what about Agar and OKeefe. They deserve a go too. I think Doherty’s probably had his run.

      • January 10th 2014 @ 9:35am
        Nick Inatey said | January 10th 2014 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Agar is demonstrating in short form cricket that his 98 was a complete fluke, and his bowling really is nowhere near standard.

        • January 10th 2014 @ 12:57pm
          Gav said | January 10th 2014 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

          Interesting quote from Inverarity-

          “We have also been pleased with the progress of left-arm orthodox spinner Clive Rose, who has performed well for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield.”

          • Columnist

            January 10th 2014 @ 3:22pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | January 10th 2014 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

            One thing I like about Rose is that he’s not afraid to toss the ball up, which is always encouraging to see from a young spinner.

          • January 10th 2014 @ 7:20pm
            Armchair expert said | January 10th 2014 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

            12 months ago Inverarity said Holland was the 2nd best spinner in Australia, then he injured his shoulder and missed that season, in his 1 shield game this season he took 1-130+, hopefully Rose doesn’t suffer the same Inverarity curse.

            • Columnist

              January 10th 2014 @ 7:52pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | January 10th 2014 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

              Holland has had a real up and down career so far. He is talented but just can’t take a trick.

          • January 10th 2014 @ 8:59pm
            ChrisB said | January 10th 2014 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

            Like the look of Rose. Seems to have bravery and ability to keep it tight from the limited amount I’ve seen of him

            • Columnist

              January 10th 2014 @ 10:38pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | January 10th 2014 @ 10:38pm | ! Report

              That first point is really important too Chris. Too many young spinners you see coming up look scared to loop the ball and just dart it through.

      • January 10th 2014 @ 8:57pm
        ChrisB said | January 10th 2014 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

        Why do they deserve a go? O’Keeffe has a good first class record, but his list A record is average. He’s one of those magical names tossed up on this site regularly (as is Khawaja etc) who seem to be proposed as a panacea for every issue with little evidence really, beyond personal bias and previous non, or inconsistent selection promoting their claims in absentia.
        Agar is nowhere near ready.

        • Columnist

          January 10th 2014 @ 10:55pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | January 10th 2014 @ 10:55pm | ! Report

          It’s funny that after all the hoopla over Agar he has done next to nothing with ball or bat since and we might not see him again at international level for years.

    • January 10th 2014 @ 7:59am
      Adam said | January 10th 2014 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Yes, it’s definitely time to move on from Doherty. What’s with the selectors obsession with this bloke? Though I too think O’Keefe should be given a go first.

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