Australia’s spinners are both better and worse than people seem to think. Let’s first be clear that, as it stands, neither Fawad Ahmed nor Ashton Agar are actually in the squad. Furthermore, both benefit from being to a large extent unknown and untested. In a barren land, the distant man who promises innovative irrigation techniques is king.
There’s lots of talk about what Ahmed might be capable of doing, but that’s radically different from what he WILL do. A grand total of 15 first-class matches means plenty is hidden, but quite why people assume that all those unknowns will be positive is beyond us. If he’s a mystery card that Australia are cannily holding back, returns for Australia A of 1-65 against Ireland and 1-100 against Gloucestershire imply that he’s something like the six of clubs.
Let’s instead look at actual squad member, Nathan Lyon, who is the latest Australian citizen to have made the mistake of failing to be Shane Warne. You know what? He’s actually not bad.
Lyon has taken a respectable number of wickets in pretty much every series he’s played and he’s generally had a proper haul at some point or other during each as well:
- 5-34 against Sri Lanka in Galle
- 4-69 against New Zealand in Brisbane
- 4-63 against India in Adelaide
- 5-68 against the Windies in Port of Spain
- 7-94 against India in Delhi
The seven wickets against India came in his last Test match, incidentally. For a 25-year-old off-spinner, this is really pretty good and all the talk of mystery spin from a distant land might be rather missing the point.