Australia add two spinners and subtract one

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Yesterday, we wrote about Australia’s firmly held belief that there’s a better spinner out there despite there being absolutely no evidence whatsoever that that’s the case. Today they dropped Nathan Lyon.

But this isn’t exactly the cut-and-dried lack of faith in Lyon that you might think. Instead, it seems that Australia decided they wanted a second spinner and through some convoluted thinking, concluded that the best way of adding a spinner to the team was by adding two and subtracting one.

Initially, they may have wanted to pick Xavier Doherty (first-class average 44.56, Test average 102) in addition to Lyon, but then someone pointed out that they might as well just pick Glenn Maxwell (27 first-class wickets at 33.81) if they were going to do that, because at least he can bat.

‘Okay,’ said the guy who professes to be in charge. ‘But if we do that, we’ll have two off-spinners in the team.’

Everyone then rubbed their chins thoughtfully for four seconds before someone came up with the idea of dropping Nathan Lyon in favour of the left-armer, Doherty.

Then they all went to Nando’s, confident that they had clearly expressed their complete lack of faith in the team’s batting and spin bowling. Mitchell Starc has also received a valuable blow to his confidence because apparently Glenn Maxwell’s better at cricket than he is.


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  1. I would’ve thought that it’s the selectors’ belief of other spinners being not that much different to Lyon than it is about there being a mythical great spinner out there somewhere. Sure, the News Ltd. papers may think there is, but I doubt John Inverarity is going “yes, that Xavier Doherty is our great spin hope”.

    1. As we said in the second paragraph, today it’s more about convoluted thinking.

      That said, there’s still a little of the ‘there must be something better’ about it. It’s that inability to leave things alone.

    2. This is all Informed Player Management. Remember, it’s Informed, so if you disagree, you’re just Misinformed.

  2. This all reminds me of England’s selectors and their headless chicken decision-making in the summer of 1988.

    England had been on the decline for a few years by then and remained in the doldrums with yet more decline for a further decade and some.

    The Aussies might turn it round sooner but I don’t think it will happen soon.

    Mind you, if the Aussies fast track the importation of a few Kiwi second stringers, they might be able to give England a run for their money.

    1. Well, now you can see why we rave over Swann and Panesar so much.

      How come Illingworth and Such only played twenty Tests between them? Going by averages, they’re in the top five most competent bowlers on that list with Swann, Panesar and Tredwell.

    1. They could’ve flown to Bangalore, Chadigarh, or Ludhiana after dropping Lyon, skid.

  3. i’m guessing they took a short flight to the Nando’s in Mumbai on the coast

  4. I was interested to see when the last time a captain declared with as few as 237 runs on the board in the first innings, so I took a look.

    New Zealand at home to Zimbabwe in Hamilton, 1995/96 was the last time; NZ (under Lee Germon) declared at 230/8, but on the third day after poor weather had wiped out most of the first two days. They might have lost (after declaring the second innings as well at 222/5) but were saved by time.

    Allan Border declared the Australia innings closed at the Ferozeshah Kotla in the second test of the 1986/7 series, but that was after there had been no play at all on the first three days.

    The last time a move quite this drastic has been attempted was in August 1974 at Lord’s: Intikhab Alam declared the Pakistan innings closed at 130/9 with Asif Masood yet to bat. It didn’t work; England reached 42/1 in reply at the close and made 270 in all. They looked nailed on for the win on day five but the rain saved Pakistan.

    1. I recall witnessing some of the following first class match, which was a 50/8 declaration by a well-known Aussie:

      A lot of players who spent time at both Middlesex and Somerset involved in that debacle. And the declaration really didn’t work that time either.

      I also recall the 1974 Lord’s test, strangely, although I wasn’t actually there. But that summer was the first year that me and my mates were really into the cricket. We all used to try running up convolutedly, like Sarfraz Nawaz, in the mistaken belief that it was the strange sideways bit to the run up that enabled swing bowling…

  5. Oh, the Australia declaration I referenced above was at 207/3.

    Clarke would have received a lot of kudos had Pattinson managed to prise out a wicket before the close, but even then I don’t think much of the move. Last time these guys made 570 against you, and it’s only the first day. One wicket–it would be one at most, and from among two openers who haven’t troubled your quicks–doesn’t seem worth it for the hope that you might generate another 15-20 runs that might prove crucial in what you hope will be a low-scoring game. Pattinson’s got a first-class average of 19 and Doherty of 13, so neither is a complete muppet.

    I could understand it if the thought was to try to generate maximum discomfort for an opener who’s been giving you trouble. But is prising out Murali Vijay’s wicket really worth it?

    All the move does is generate rote applause for “aggressive captaincy” and exhibit to everyone including your opponents that you’re short on confidence and looking for any kind of positive to get your team going.

    1. I don’t think it’s a decision worth debating about – it is a relatively straightforward one. And a wicket beats 15-20 runs in a test (particularly in the subcontinent). There’s nothing drastic about it, IMO.

    2. But is prising out Murali Vijay’s wicket really worth it?

      In balance, I think so, yes.

    1. Michael Clarke is probably the best spinner in this team, as well as the best batsman.

  6. It’s a close fought battle, but I would suggest that India are, on balance, slightly ahead at the end of Day two.

  7. Well I don’t think so that this will be a good decision because Nathan Lyon is better than both of Doherty and Maxwell and then dropping a good and specialist bowler in favor of an all-rounder is not a good idea too.So I think that the Aussies will repent on their decision.Let’s see what happens.

  8. Utterly hilarious.

    This is the consequence of that thing they always used to say back when they were good – that Aussie cricket provided a conveyor belt of test-ready players. The logical conclusion of this way of thinking is that any player who struggles in a single test match is therefore not good enough. It can’t be that he might be good enough later, given experience and time, because that contradicts the first premise. So they get dropped.

    The surprise isn’t that this happens, it is that after five years of the same thing they still haven’t learned the basic lesson. Is Ray Illingworth acting as a consultant to CA?

    Lyon to play in the 3rd test, less experienced than he would have been if they stuck with him for this one, three players instead of none feeling they’re not trusted for test cricket in India, and Australia still 2-0 down.

  9. Rahul Dravid over at cricinfo predicts that this test will end in four days.

  10. 7 wickets between them. inspired decision. we can just ignore rage runs conceded.

  11. panesar and swan is current worlds best spinning attack ….Now England has quality spinners why aus not?…remember shane warne days…without good spin attack your bowling department is 50%….in hydrabad test spinners got two 7 wicket (one is not special bowler) and three pacers got 3 wickets …what aus planning…wake up

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