While Australia have all bases covered when it comes to the pace battery, it’s the spin department which continues to struggle even years after Shane Warne announced his retirement. The hosts would look to spice up the track to cover up their spin woes, but absence of a good spinner – who can contain from one and attack if required – will hurt the Kangaroos.
What is more frustrating is the fact that when we look around there are hardly any spinners Down Under to pose any sorts of threat to the opposition. They toured the UAE and got pitches tailor-made for the slower bowlers. What next? The Australian spinners return with 10 wickets in the entire tour.
Nathan Lyon, who has been in the scheme of things, and the only option it seems, will be the bowler who would shoulder most of the slow-bowling burden. Any one to share the load with? Can toss to Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell, but both are not regular spinners. Smith was, but has taken up batting more seriously now.
Now as the Men in Blue, donning whites, get ready for the stiff challenge, there’s one thing that Australia would have to deal within themselves too. The mystery of spin!
Lyon broke into the national squad in August 2011, and picked up his baggy green against Sri Lanka despite having a few number of first-class games to his name. The right-arm orthodox spinner had also worked as an assistant to the curator at the Adelaide Oval and knows what these pitches have in store.
STRENGTHS: The New South Wales-born has foxed many batsmen with his calculated flight and precise loop. Yes, he has been over the place sometime, but his ability to raise from the ashes can’t be ignored. His icy-cool temperament is a vital cog in his wheel. His 7/94 against India was a classic example of attacking spin bowling.
WEAKNESS: Lyon has often being accused of not experimenting with his line. He has persisted with his straightish trajectory often and in return batsman have made easy work of him. On occasions, he has also looked tentative while varying his pace. He seemed quicker through the air before dishing out sub standard display of spin bowling. Moreover, he is predictable too. Recently, Pakistan batsmen often stepped out to him which vindicates the fact that they judged his length quite easliy. He must improve before Kohli and Co. get hold of him.
QUICK STAT: Lyon’s impressive performance includes five-fors against India, Sri Lanka, West Indies, South Africa and England. His career best, interestingly, came against India. (7/94) at Feroz Shah Kotla last year.
Considered to be a leg-spinner initially, Smith’s bowling took a back seat after he displayed his batting prowess. But lack of quality spinners has again brought his ‘secondary trait’ to the fore as he was blooded against Pakistan to assist Lyon. Smith’s stats in international cricket hardly speaks the truth as he has gone past three wickets in a match on only two occasions. His best (3/18) came against England at Lord’s. Watch out for his ability to strike when it matters!
Like his colleague Smith, Maxwell too is considered to just fill in the overs. Where can they use them? Anytime they wish to test the concentration of the opposition against gentle part-timers.