Picking Nathan Lyon in India would be a mistake

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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

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    Australia should build their attack around pace for the first Test in India next month, playing three specialist quicks, leaving Nathan Lyon on the bench and using Glenn Maxwell as spin support for Steve O’Keefe.

    That depends, of course, on the pitch conditions. If the surface is a raging turner then Lyon should come into the team at the expense of third paceman Jackson Bird, with Maxwell’s spot at six going either to a specialist batsman or to all-rounder Hilton Cartwright, who can offer an extra seam bowling option.

    The Australian squad for India will be announced soon, with the group to head to Dubai at the start of February for a two-week training camp before flying to India for one tour game. Last time they toured India, Australia took a 17-man squad so this would be my group, topped by my starting XI for the first Test in Pune starting on February 23.

    1. David Warner
    2. Matt Renshaw
    3. Shaun Marsh
    4. Steve Smith (c)
    5. Peter Handscomb
    6. Glenn Maxwell
    7. Peter Nevill (wk)
    8. Mitchell Starc
    9. Steve O’Keefe
    10. Josh Hazlewood
    11. Jackson Bird

    12. Nathan Lyon
    13. Usman Khawaja
    14. Ashton Agar
    15. Hilton Cartwright
    16. Chadd Sayers
    17. Ashton Turner

    O’Keefe should be Australia’s first-choice spinner in India for the sake of the tourists’ trump cards Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. It is that pace pair, not Australia’s spinners, who pose the biggest threat to the Indian batsmen.

    Starc showed in Sri Lanka five months ago what a force he can be in Asian conditions, hoarding 24 wickets in three Tests. With his searing pace, lethal yorkers and skill to swing the new and old ball, Starc is able to largely take the pitch out of the equation, remaining effective on surfaces which would render many quicks impotent.

    mitchell-starc-cricket-australia-test-waca-2016

    Hazlewood, meanwhile, is arguably the most in-form paceman in Test cricket worldwide. In six Tests this summer, Hazlewood grabbed 32 wickets at an average of 21 and routinely removed the key opposition batsmen.

    He bowled well, without much fortune, in his first series in Asia last year. Hazlewood was poorly used in that series in Sri Lanka, with captain Steve Smith making the mistake of repeatedly handing the new ball to Lyon instead of the tall quick.

    The towering seamer is similar in style to star England paceman Stuart Broad, who was his side’s best bowler in their recent five-Test series in India. Hazlewood has also drawn comparisons, from the very start of his career, with Glenn McGrath, the legendary Australian quick whose Test record in India was astonishingly good.

    To start with, I would bank on either tall paceman Jackson Bird or short swing bowler Chadd Sayers to be more effective than Lyon. The veteran off-spinner looked set to be dropped for O’Keefe after bowling horribly in the opening Test of this summer against South Africa. Only a calf injury to O’Keefe seemed to save Lyon.

    He has just completed by far the worst home summer of his Test career, averaging 50 with the ball and conceding 3.62 runs per over, well above his career figure of 3.15 before this summer.

    If Lyon is conceding 3.62 rpo on his preferred home decks against South Africa and Pakistan, it’s hard to see how he’ll keep his economy rate below four in India on less suitable pitches against a more dominant batting line-up.

    Australia cannot afford for their spinners to be expensive in India. It would ease any pressure built by Starc and Hazlewood. It would also mean India’s batsmen could play defensively against Australia’s gun pace duo safe in the knowledge they will easily up the ante against loose spin bowling.

    There has been a lot of talk in the media and among Australian fans about the need to pick “attacking” spinners in India. Champion leg-spinner Shane Warne has been pushing for Mitchell Swepson, Test legend Steve Waugh has backed Fawad Ahmed and former Test skipper Michael Clarke has pushed for Adam Zampa.

    Australia’s problem is they don’t have a decent attacking spinner. Swepson is extremely green, Fawad can’t even get a game for Victoria, and Zampa is a limited-overs specialist with an awful first-class career record.

    When it comes to spinners, “attacking” also translates as “expensive”, except for geniuses like Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ravi Ashwin. Australia’s best attacking options in India, by far, are Starc and Hazlewood. The bowling unit in India must be built around that pair, not around Australia’s spinners.

    The tweakers should not be used as Australia’s strike bowlers. Their role should be to keep things as tight as possible, chip in with wickets when conditions suit, and make things easier for the quicks. O’Keefe is perfectly suited to such a role. His economy rate of 2.52 runs per over in first-class cricket is extraordinary – equal to McGrath’s career figure.

    O’Keefe’s rare level of control was evident in the third Test against Pakistan. On a run-filled pitch on which Yasir Shah went at almost 6 rpo and Lyon at 3.6, O’Keefe was very frugal, conceding just 2.8 rpo.

    O’Keefe manages to be economical without bowling defensively. Unlike cautious left-arm spinners of the past like England’s Ashley Giles and South Africa’s Paul Harris, who just tried to dart the ball in at the batsmen’s legs, O’Keefe utilises enticing flight and maintains an attacking line, particularly to right-handers.

    He also has one big advantage over Lyon in regards to bowling in Asia. O’Keefe bowls with more sidespin than Lyon, whose reliance on overspin and generating bounce has made him ineffective in the sub-continent.

    On Asian pitches, local spinners concentrate on side spin because it makes them more unpredictable. Depending on whether the ball lands on the seam or the smooth part of the ball, it will either grip and turn or skid on straight. It is this natural variation which earns them wickets, and which has befuddled visiting Australian batsmen for decades.

    Spinners like Lyon who bowl with heavy overspin tend to catch the seam far more often and so it is far easier to predict how their deliveries will behave. This is a key reason why Lyon has struggled in his 11 Tests in Asia, averaging 43.

    Nathan Lyon

    Last year he arrived in Sri Lanka in career-best form, coming off a prolific 18 months in Test cricket. But Lyon’s Australian style of spin again proved less effective as he was comprehensively outbowled by all of Sri Lanka’s spinners.

    It is a worrying sign that Lyon, brimming with confidence, laboured against an ordinary, inexperienced Sri Lankan batting line-up. Now he is clearly lacking in confidence and will face a rampant Indian batting line-up which made 550, on average, in the first innings during their recent five-Test series against England.

    Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq predicted Lyon’s reliance on over spin would see him struggle in India.

    “When the bowlers from here (Australia) go to Asia, they find it difficult to utilise these sort of turning tracks, because there, under-cutter bowlers who bowl quicker are effective,” he told the media.

    “Bowlers who bowl overspin and bowl slower normally get thrashed.”

    Lyon should not be an automatic choice for the first Test in India.

    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 (240)

    • January 9th 2017 @ 6:49am
      qwetzen said | January 9th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      “Starc showed in Sri Lanka five months ago what a force he can be in Asian conditions”

      Starc in SL; 3 matches, 24w @ 15.2. RPO 3.52
      Starc in UAE & India; 3 matches, 4w @ 85.5. RPO 3.52

      • Roar Guru

        January 9th 2017 @ 6:55am
        The Bush said | January 9th 2017 @ 6:55am | ! Report

        You don’t think 2016/17 Starc is a slightly different beast to 2013/14 Starc?

        • January 9th 2017 @ 7:27am
          qwetzen said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:27am | ! Report

          It’s probably not the best time to ask that after his SCG display… But ‘No’, not significantly. He still has control problems, he still doesn’t swing the red ball as much as he does the white, he doesn’t have any new tricks and I don’t like the way he’s spending so much time now bowling around the wicket with a *very* low arm.

          But that’s not the point. My point is that Ronan is cherry-picking stats. This is bad enough, but when he uses all of Lyon’s s-c stats but only some of Starc’s, well; Is that fair?

          • Roar Rookie

            January 9th 2017 @ 9:10am
            Lancey5times said | January 9th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

            How is recent form on the sub-continent as relevant or less relevant than 3 year old form?

            And are you actually making a case for Starc to not play in India?

          • January 9th 2017 @ 9:30am
            Sideline said | January 9th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

            I’m not sure what you read, but Ronan bases his argument here around the most recent stats. That makes sense to me. No idea why you would think a record from 3 years ago would be as relevant as one from 6 months ago. And you have watched no cricket in the last few years if you think Starc now is the same as the Starc from that UAE tour.

            • January 9th 2017 @ 10:15am
              qwetzen said | January 9th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

              Boys,

              “…but Ronan bases his argument here around the most recent stats.”
              Yes and No. Ronan is basing his pro-Starc ‘argument’ on Starc’s “most recent stats”, but his anti-Lyon ‘argument’ included *all* of Lyons sub-continental Tests. Do you think that’s fair and ethical?

              And Sideline, I have actually watched plenty of Starc bowling. That’d be how I listed the points of my judgement. Just like you didn’t.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 11:09am
                Sideline said | January 9th 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

                Ok.

                Starc may still have some control problems, but they are nothing like what they were. Bowling with his speed is bound to engender inaccuracy at times, as evidenced by most of his type. Mitchell Johnson, probably the most recent of his ilk, was always a bit wayward. It’s the price he pays for the wickets. However, in general he is much better.

                No he doesn’t swing the red ball as much as the white, but the white ball often swings more. It’s a different ball and never older than 25 overs. However, with the red ball Starc is now getting both conventional and reverse swing through an innings, and uses it with more control. I’m not sure what more you expect here?

                He doesn’t have any new tricks? Not sure what you’re on about here either. Test cricket isn’t like limited overs where you need to “trick” a player into a poor shot. Was McGrath known for his trickiness, or was it his persistently agonising line and length? Lillee, particularly early on, didn’t rely on guile. Dale Steyn hasn’t tricked anyone into giving him his 400 odd wickets.

                On bowling around the wicket, I have also wondered about this. But I also assume there is a point, and I’m not so hubris to think I know better. I guessed that he was trying to sling the ball a bit more to get it to skid, but I don’t know. It would be a specific tactic the team had worked on.

                And on Lyon: ‘Ronan is basing his anti Lyon argument on all his sub continent tests.’ Yes he is, because all of Lyon’s asian tests have similarly poor results. Starc’s have not, hence using the most recent as a guide. If Lyon had vastly different form in different Asian series, I’m sure Ronan would use the most recent one as a form guide.

                For the record, I like Lyon and think he should go to India, which he will. But criticism of his form on spinning decks is justified. Starc has, in his most recent series on these decks, done well. Hence the comparison.

              • Columnist

                January 9th 2017 @ 3:12pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | January 9th 2017 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

                Test bowling averages in Asia:

                Starc – 25

                Lyon – 43

      • January 9th 2017 @ 1:39pm
        Adrian said | January 9th 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

        I agree, qwetzen. The difference is in how Starc is used. Back in 2013, he was used as your standard test bowler, bowling long spells, expected to do well or else. Nowadays he is used in short, sharp blasts, and we have a 5th bowler to provide that relief. We’ve seen what happens when we don’t have that 5th bowler and the batsmen show some resistance = Starc sucks. That’s why Mitchell Marsh was persisted with for so long, because, while Marsh himself stunk, he made Starc a powerful weapon. While we obviously can’t go back to Marsh now, we can go to someone better, which is why I say we need Faulkner for this tour.

    • January 9th 2017 @ 6:58am
      Sir Alfie said | January 9th 2017 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      Agreed. Lyon only bowled about 20 good overs all summer, but they just happened to be the most recent overs he bowled, so we all seem to want to forget the 5 tests of pies he served up.

      I’d go as far as saying we should play soley to our strength in India and go a 4 man pace attack and blast them out. The traditional 3/1 or 2/2 pace/spin attack has not served us well in the past.

      • January 9th 2017 @ 7:27am
        Crispy said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:27am | ! Report

        So Starc, Hazlewood, Bird and um, Mennie?

        • Roar Guru

          January 9th 2017 @ 9:54am
          JamesH said | January 9th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          You’re forgetting um, Sayers 😉

          • January 9th 2017 @ 11:13am
            James Jackson said | January 9th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

            A swing bowler will be worse than useless in India

            • January 9th 2017 @ 12:02pm
              Don Freo said | January 9th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

              Kapil Dev?

            • January 9th 2017 @ 12:28pm
              Rob JM said | January 9th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

              Zaheer khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis shall we go on.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 1:49pm
                Basil said | January 9th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

                Enough said. He looks silly enough boys.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 1:56pm
                Don Freo said | January 9th 2017 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

                Rusi Surti?…Ok, I went too far. I just wanted to say his name.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 2:40pm
                James Jackson said | January 9th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                None of them are Australian!

              • January 9th 2017 @ 2:46pm
                Don Freo said | January 9th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                So…Australian swing works differently to Asian swing? That’s not what you suggested initially.

                C’mon JJ…give a reason why Australian swing is not just useless but “worse than useless”.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 5:49pm
                James Jackson said | January 9th 2017 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

                Fair enough I didn’t make that caveat originally, but our fast bowlers who have been successful in India have been fast bowlers, not medium pace swing bowlers. There’s also little evidence in recent India home series’ to suggest serious swing bowling will be accommodated.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 3:01pm
                Rob JM said | January 9th 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

                Pattinson got a 5 for last time!

      • January 9th 2017 @ 8:13am
        Nudge said | January 9th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        “I’d go as far as saying we should play solely to our strength in India and go a 4 man pace attack and blast them out’. Good luck with that one we don’t even do that at the Gabba or WACA. Australia should and will play both Lyon and Sok. As I’ve said regularly in recent weeks I don’t even think an allrounder is critical at least for the first test because in a days play you can get 60 overs from your spinners and 30 overs from your quicks.
        Renshaw
        Warner
        Khawaja
        Smith
        Handscomb
        S.Marsh
        Neville
        Starc
        O’Keefe
        Hazlewood
        Lyon
        Reserves
        Bird
        Mitch Marsh
        Agar
        Maxwell
        Swepson

        • Roar Rookie

          January 9th 2017 @ 9:13am
          Lancey5times said | January 9th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

          I think the fact that our best chance of winning (pace) has next to no chance of being successful speaks volumes

        • January 9th 2017 @ 11:40am
          bearfax said | January 9th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          Pretty close to what I would be selecting, Nudge. I would even consider Agar or Bird for Lyon in the starting 11. But the rest of the side I like. Of the reserves to me Swepson is still learning the game. Had a great first season but is going for 46 so far this Shield Season. Give him and other year and take Ahmed or Cartwright. Of course I would like Patterson there, but it aint going to happen and I think the selectors will go for Wade as wicket keeper

        • January 9th 2017 @ 1:40pm
          Adrian said | January 9th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

          The front team and 1st reserve (Bird) isn’t too bad, though I’d be stopping short of playing 2 spinners in India against India, the best players of spin in the world. But Mitchell Marsh, Agar, Maxwell and Swepson should all be staying at home. None are in form and none warrant selection.

          • January 10th 2017 @ 1:54am
            deccas said | January 10th 2017 @ 1:54am | ! Report

            Agar is averging mid 20s in the shield this season, so his form is alright. I’d happily take him along, but I agree with you on the others.

    • January 9th 2017 @ 7:18am
      Rob JM said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      I disagree, England won with Panasar bowling at aprox 3.7 RPO and Swan at about 2.5 RPO. Lyon and SOK are our two best spinners and complement each other perfectly. Our previous victory occurred when (relatively) fast bowler friendly pitches were served up due to a dispute between the groundskeepers and officialdom, it wont happen again. As effective as Starc was in Sri Lanka, Hazlewood was not. We also have problem of our batting order and trying to fit S Marsh into a team where only the No 6 could be dropped. Playing 2 frontline spinners gives us the option of playing 6 batsmen.
      If certain spinners or batsmen struggle then we look at Maxwell/Turner types in subsequent tests.
      If we had the likes of Cummins or Pattinson availble it would make sense to play 3 fast bowlers and a spinning alrounder.

      • January 9th 2017 @ 10:32am
        qwetzen said | January 9th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        “If we had the likes of Cummins or Pattinson availble it would make sense to play 3 fast bowlers and a spinning alrounder.”

        Disagree. Playing a sole spinner in India, especially an ordinary one, is doomed. The BCCI will tweak the pitches to be absolute bunsens and we’ll be beaten inside 3 days. The pitches for the recent Eng tour were reasonable (ish), this was because they went in with a squadron of spinners. “Play with one and you’ll be done.” should be a criteria.

        • January 9th 2017 @ 12:38pm
          Rob JM said | January 9th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

          I suppose I didn’t make it clear that I meant three quicks, spinner, and an additional spinning alrounder.
          The two best options for taking 20 wickets are
          Starc, Hazlewood, O’keef and Lyon
          Or
          Starc, Hazlewood, Sayers, O’keef and Maxwell/Turner

          The second option would be preferable if we had a second fast swing bowler available, since the third quick is less likely than Lyon we should go with the first attack until proven otherwise and Play S Marsh at 6.

        • Columnist

          January 9th 2017 @ 6:34pm
          Glenn Mitchell said | January 9th 2017 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

          Qwetzen, what was the bowling attack that Australia utilised in India in 2004 when it won for the only time in the past 45 years?

          • January 10th 2017 @ 6:44am
            qwetzen said | January 10th 2017 @ 6:44am | ! Report

            Glenn, yep all fair, but India learnt from that tour and haven’t provided Oz with a pace-friendly pitch since. Sticking almost exclusively to the same formula of 2004, (three frontline quicks), Aust have won zero Tests in the three subsequent tours.

    • Roar Pro

      January 9th 2017 @ 7:18am
      anon said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      I can’t even begin to think that far ahead just yet.

      I can barely sleep, I’m counting down the days, marking them off the calendar, waiting with bated breath for this upcoming do-or-die, clash of the titans, 5-game winner takes all one day series against Pakistan.

      Am I right?

      I already booked my tickets. You have to get in quick otherwise you’ll miss out.

      I get the butterflies in the stomach just thinking about this one day series. Imagine how the players feel!

      • January 9th 2017 @ 7:32am
        Crispy said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:32am | ! Report

        +1. My 8 year old son actually cried when I told him that Lynn had been picked in the ODI side when we’re going to see the Heat play on Wednesday “why would they do that?”

        • January 9th 2017 @ 5:22pm
          Marshall said | January 9th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

          Me and my 3 grown man friends cried when we found out too having booked tickets to the following Friday’s game!

      • January 9th 2017 @ 8:55am
        Basil said | January 9th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        Yes anon, we know you’re a T20 fan. Well done.
        Each to there own. Some people don’t see the point and therefore don’t get overly excited about a few International class batsmen beating up on predominately club level bowlers. Like I said, each to there own.

        • January 9th 2017 @ 9:18am
          GutFeel said | January 9th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          That description might be more relevant to the fabled Victoria Bitter One Day Series v Pakistan.

          • January 9th 2017 @ 9:53am
            Basil said | January 9th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

            I would still rater see Lynn get tested by an International attack rather than a BBL attack.
            I can smash my sons bowling around in the backyard too but it doesn’t make me a legend.

            • January 9th 2017 @ 10:59am
              GutFeel said | January 9th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

              In recent years these nothing one day series have tended to be pretty easing going for batsmen since they typically play on roads. I doubt Lynn will be getting much in the way of a ‘challenge’.

            • January 9th 2017 @ 5:23pm
              Marshall said | January 9th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

              Ahhh, after the Pakistan bowling performance in the tests, belting a lineup of Johnson, Willey, Tye (quality T20 bowler) etc is a pretty damn good effort.

      • January 9th 2017 @ 9:05am
        GutFeel said | January 9th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        Gold.

    • January 9th 2017 @ 7:34am
      jamesb said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      If we drop Khawaja, is there a risk of messing with his mind and confidence? The last thing we want is for Khawaja to lose confidence and form heading into the Ashes next summer.

      • January 9th 2017 @ 7:57am
        Matthew H said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

        I personally think the idea of dropping Khawaja is absurd, but it also seems to be quite popular. I wouldn’t mind Khawaja opening with Warner in the first test and S Marsh at 3, if anyone gets dropped for Marsh it should be Cartwright or Renshaw, but Renshaw should play in the series. Does Marsh really need to come back into the team directly?

        • January 9th 2017 @ 8:52am
          Stephen said | January 9th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

          The reason you find the idea of dropping Khawaja absurd is due to the fact that it is. Dropping someone who has made runs consistently over the Australian summer for S.Marsh is what halted the development of the Australian team. In close to 100% of selection issues, form should take priority over other factors. I would understand if the player looking to come back in was a Steve Smith or a David Warner, but Shaun Marsh? If Renshaw and Khawaja had not performed, then it would be worth considering but they have both performed, so it not worth considering.

          Additionally, I think Nathan Lyon should be our #1 spinner in India with a pace attack of Starc, Hazelwood and Bird. Bird performed well in the tests he played and I think he was hard done by not getting picked for the SCG test. If not Bird, then Sayers as he has solid Shield form.

          With all that said, who knows what the selectors are thinking? They seem to reward potential over form which is an U/14 approach to selection. The only definite is Nevill for Wade.

          • January 9th 2017 @ 9:00am
            Basil said | January 9th 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

            Conditions play a huge part. You don’t drive a formula one car on a rally circuit.

            • Columnist

              January 9th 2017 @ 10:48am
              Ronan O'Connell said | January 9th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

              “The reason you find the idea of dropping Khawaja absurd is due to the fact that it is. Dropping someone who has made runs consistently over the Australian summer for S.Marsh is what halted the development of the Australian team.”

              Khawaja and SMarsh both have played 4 Tests in Asia, here are their records in Asia:

              SMarsh – 393 runs at 79 from five innings

              Khawaja – 115 runs at 19 from seven innings.

              Khawaja’s highest score in Asia is 26, while SMarsh’s five innings in Asia are: 141, 81, 18, 130, 23.

              Khawaja also floundered in the only other foreign series he’s played in where spin was a factor – the 2013 Ashes when Swann was a threat on dry pitches tailored just for him.

              In that Ashes Khawaja was dismissed 5 out of 6 times by spin while averaging just 11 against spin.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 11:32am
                James Jackson said | January 9th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

                Marsh has no form and should not walk back into the team

              • January 9th 2017 @ 11:35am
                Dom said | January 9th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

                I’d argue it’s worth persisting with Khawaja early in the series at least, in the hope that Australia’s first-choice No.3 and arguably our third best batsman can become relatively successful in all conditions. He’s at least as likely to score runs as whoever you’d pick at No.6 anyway (if S. Marsh was replacing Khawaja in the top 5).

                For that reason I’d go with six genuine batsmen and four bowlers in the first test, which probably requires two of them to be spinners (even though I do prefer Bird over Lyon or O’Keefe). If our batsmen can stick around long enough to scrap out a draw, that’s success in India. If Khawaja struggles badly in the first test, replace him with an all-rounder and then consider bringing in Bird for Lyon/O’Keefe.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 11:44am
                Ross said | January 9th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

                Dropping Khawaja is absurd, he along with Smirh has been our best batsman, look at his record for Aus A against India A, he can bat there and won’t be the only batsman who will he troubled by Ashwin, we didn’t drop Ponting when he had a bad series against harbijan so yes it’s absurd to drop Khawaja

              • Roar Guru

                January 9th 2017 @ 1:24pm
                Red Kev said | January 9th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

                Khawaja being omitted is the definition of scapegoating.
                David Warner averaged 23 in that England series and 27 in that Sri Lanka series. He also actually played last time we went to India (Khawaja didn’t) and averaged 24. Why is Warner a lock?

              • January 9th 2017 @ 2:43pm
                James Jackson said | January 9th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

                Because he should be a lock, and so should Khawaja.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 2:48pm
                Ross said | January 9th 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

                Red Kev is spot on,Warner who I am a big fan off averaged in the 20s against Sri Lanka so why just pick on Khawaja, Khawaja is all class and deserves the full series against India,what more does he have to do

              • January 9th 2017 @ 1:27pm
                Dave said | January 9th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

                I don’t doubt S Marsh is at the moment a better batsmen on the sub continent, but my problem is thus. We are not going to win the series (yes negative I know), so let’s take the team to learn from this tour. Renshaw at 20 would learn heaps and may just be primed for the return series as would Handscomb and we may well be better placed next tour to push for the win.

                Re spinners, no point playing show pony part time spinners. England’s tour showed that. I would take 4 spinners on the tour, Lyon, Okeefe, Agar and Swepson. Sure Swepson is raw and I probably would not play him, but Warne was raw and Swepson has a good turning leg break with some other variations so would be a great learning tour.

                This is a tour to learn for some young guys. If S Marsh bats, it is at 6 for me.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 1:46pm
                Don Freo said | January 9th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

                We have as goog a chance as India to win this series…with or without either Marsh.

                We have over 30 players that will acquit themselves well if given the chance.

                Cheer up folk. This is an exciting time for Oz cricket.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 1:48pm
                Rob said | January 9th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

                Absolutely agree Ronan. Khawaja also was dismissed by Duminy, Shamsi and Shah in recent match on less than spin friendly pitches. Marsh has a good record in all forms against spin. Picking UK and watching him implode would be the same as picking Wade and watching chances go begging behind the stumps.
                Lyon bowled better in his last 3 innings but you are spot on with your assessment that Lyons will struggle with that type of bowling to the Indian batsmen. Lyon has a very low % of dismissals bowled or LBW. The good Indian bowlers have a much higher % of these dismissals. Ashwin 45% and Lyon 25% ? IMO. Lyon has more success with the new ball on a hard surface because he can get unusual bounce. He struggles with an older ball when the wicket is lower and slower? He will be toothless on an Indian wicket or with the ball 40 overs old. That is when we need our spinner to preform. Maxwell has to play with SOK and back up the 3 pace bowlers. Fielding is so important and Maxwell is the best in this department. If he gets a wicket in the field and save 20 runs an inning that could be valuable.

              • Columnist

                January 9th 2017 @ 6:54pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | January 9th 2017 @ 6:54pm | ! Report

                “Why is Warner a lock?” (over Khawaja)

                a) Because Warner’s a better Test batsman than Khawaja

                b) Because Warner’s Test average of 33 in Asia, while ordinary, is still much better than Khawaja’s average of 19.

    • January 9th 2017 @ 7:50am
      Matthew H said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Lyon seems to be bowling a bit quick at times which has been mentioned frequently. Perhaps this quicker style will work better in India? Spot on with the observations about slow bowlers who have a ‘flipper style’ low bouncing ball that hurries on straight being most effective in India. The same situation exists with our pace battery with seam v swing. In Aus the seam and bounce is effective, but picking both Hazlewood and Bird could be a mistake. Starc definitely swings the ball. In certain matches in India however it has been noted that humid conditions severely hampered the ability to swing the ball. Apparently during a recent test v NZ getting the wet ball replaced by a new dry one was the most important factor in attaining swing. There is no doubt that the best line up in at least one of the tests will include two spinners, if Lyon is not the second spinner who is?

      • January 9th 2017 @ 9:41am
        jameswm said | January 9th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Maxwell or Turner at 6.

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