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With no Lyon in India, Australia might struggle

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

By Kersi Meher-Homji, Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Expert

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29 Have your say

    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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    The Crowd Says (29)

    • Roar Guru

      September 12th 2017 @ 8:58am
      Edward L'Orange said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      I have no real issue in Lyon and Handscomb missing the tour. I’d prefer they take some time off, then start preparing for shield cricket and the Ashes.

      I’d prefer Cummins not go either.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 10:38am
        BurgyGreen said | September 13th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        Yeah I’m a little worried about Cummins. How dreadful would it be if he got injured on some money-spinning ODI tour and we had none of the four big quicks line up in the first Ashes Test (Starc and Hazlewood will probably be fit but it’s still worrying).

    • Roar Guru

      September 12th 2017 @ 9:07am
      Giri Subramanian said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      I don’t think Lyon will be hugely missed in India. It is better he gets some rest ahead of the Ashes. The Indian test wickets and ODI wickets are completely different. Almost all the games will be high scoring ones, I remember even the Indian spinners were taken to cleaners against England earlier this year.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 9:09am
      jameswm said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      Handscomb should be in the no.4 spot that Bailey made his own for a while. And in ODIs you could probably get away with his keeping.

      I still can’t believe they keep picking Finch. Lyon I am 50/50 on.

      This is what the ODI team should be for India and generally.

      1. Warner
      2. Khawaja
      3. Smith
      4. Handscomb
      5. Head
      6. Maxwell
      7. Faulkner
      8. Cummins
      9. Starc (injured, so someone else)
      10-11 – 2 of Lyon, Agar and Zampa in the subcontinent, and Hazelwood and one of them elsewhere

      12th – Cartwright

      Look at the potential mid to lower order batting in India:

      6. Maxwell
      7. Faulkner
      8. Agar
      9. Cummins
      10. Starc

      • September 12th 2017 @ 11:45am
        Brian said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

        What about Marsh. He’s no test player but I’d have him in any ODI team

        • September 12th 2017 @ 1:15pm
          jameswm said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          Mitch? Is he fit?

          If fit and proves form yes, I’d certainly consider him around the no.7 spot. Direct swap for Faulkner

      • September 13th 2017 @ 10:46am
        BurgyGreen said | September 13th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        I actually think Head can be that solid number 4 in the ODI team. He averages 40 now in ODIs and very rarely fails to contribute. He generally looks solid early in his innings and, unlike many of our batsmen, actually inspires a bit of confidence. On top of that he’s only 23 and could be in the side for another 15 years. I wasn’t a huge fan of him before he was picked, but his confident and comfortable batting at international level so far has changed my mind.

        As for Handscomb, I know he did really well in the English 50-over tournament but he just doesn’t strike me as much of a limited overs batsman, despite my respect for him as a long form batsman. I may be wrong though.

        I think our full strength side at the moment looks like this:

        1. Warner
        2. Khawaja? Finch? Lynn? (this is probably the toughest position at the moment – we’ll know more after the domestic one-day cup)
        3. Smith
        4. Head
        5. Maxwell
        6. M. Marsh
        7. Wade
        8. Faulkner
        9. Starc
        10. Hazlewood
        11. Cummins/Zampa (I liked the team we were playing circa 2015, where we had no specialist spinner and just had Maxi roll the arm over and allow us to play three quicks. But that’s probably overkill when we’ve got Marsh bowling his sharp mediums)

    • September 12th 2017 @ 10:31am
      Ouch said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

      Smith, Warner, Cummins, Hazelwood and UK should be back in Oz preparing for the Ashes rather than playing this series. A good opportunity to give the up and comers a go.
      Apart from the $, a meaningless series.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 11:19am
        jameswm said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

        The $ are big though. Tours like this keep CA earning the big bucks.

        India wouldn’t like it if you sent a substandard team over.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 1:34pm
          Ouch said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

          It would be interesting to know what the $ amount CA receives for tours like this and also how the pay structure for tours is calculated.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 7:42am
          qwetzen said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

          “India wouldn’t like it if you sent a substandard team over.”

          That’s debatable. History tells us that the most important (non-monetary) thing for the BCCI is Home wins.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 12:31pm
        Kersi Meher-Homji said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

        I agree that Australia should be concentrating on Sheffield Shield and Ashes and not tour other countries for ODIs and T20Is. Yes, the main reason is money. Other reason is reaching no. 1 ranking in ODIs as mentioned in my story.

        Beating India won’t be easy as they have master batsmen and a fast-medium bowler Bumrah with Malinga-like action who Aussie bats will have to get used to.

        Don’t take India lightly, Aussies.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 1:16pm
          jameswm said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

          Kersi on what planet would Australia take India lightly – esp playing in India?

    • Roar Guru

      September 12th 2017 @ 1:53pm
      Anindya Dutta said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

      Kersi – I tend to agree with comments here that Lyon would add little to the squad where the wickets for limited overs wont help spin. The fact that India have rested both Ashwin and Jadeja for the series is a sure sign that these wont be dust bowls. On the other hand, I am no fan of Zampa and many here know it. I think he is overrated and will get taken to the cleaners in India. He does have some experience of these wickets from his IPL days, but I don’t see him as a weapon. This will be a battle between Warner and Smith at the top of the order versus Bumrah, Shami, Kuldeep and Chahal from the Indian bowling attack. Kohli has a point to prove after his awful Test series against Australia a few months ago, so I will wait to see how he handles his own batting in this series, notwithstanding that its a different format where his recent series averages have been above 100.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 8:17pm
        John Erichsen said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:17pm | ! Report

        I expect Kohli will be keen to make a statement in this series. He is now no longer ranked in the top five test batsmen and has no claim at all to the best batsman in the world tag. This series wont change that ranking, but it will give him a platform to settle some scores. It is very rare to see Kohli, with bat in hand, looking like he didn’t have a clue. I must admit, however, that despite scoring stuff all runs in four tests, he still had a massive impact on the outcome of the series. Not many players could do that in the midst of a horrible form slump. it was most impressive.

        • Roar Guru

          September 12th 2017 @ 11:47pm
          Anindya Dutta said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:47pm | ! Report

          Yes John I think Kohli will justifiably feel he has something to prove. He is by far the best batsman in the world in the shorter format right now but the fall from grace in Tests I am sure rankles. He was due for a bad patch when Australia came around for the Test series but the patch was abysmal. And the fact that he had an impact does not surprise me because he is such a competitor who wants to be a part of the game all the time. He passes on that competitive spirit to the whole team.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 1:59pm
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

      Thank you Anindya for your intelligent comments. Now roll on, the Kohli-Smith saga!

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