Australia v Pakistan – Gabba, Day 4: Spin Me A Spinner

Australia 429 & 5(dec)/202 v Pakistan 142 & 8/382

How good is it when a Test Match goes into a fifth day – with the possibility of at least two different results? Realistically of course, history is against Pakistan – and at this point I wouldn’t even back them with your money – but there have been crazier finishes in cricket.

Yes, there is something about Test cricket as it enters the latter stages of a match: the twists and turns, the deteriorating pitch, the spinners coming into their own…at which point we need to stop and consider Australia’s number 1 tweaker.

Anyone who has witnessed Nathan Lyon in a press-conference would recognize a man possessed of a dry sense of humour and self-deprecating manner. “Gary” is obviously a wonderful fellow, and a fine upstanding citizen. If he wasn’t, would Mike Hussey have bestowed upon him the honour of leading the team in the post-match victory song? I have always desperately wanted him to succeed. Not just because he is such a good bloke, but because Australia badly needs a decent spinner. Someone who can run through a hapless opposition batting line-up on the last day of a Test. How good is it to see six or seven fieldsmen crowded around the bat with the ball fizzing and spitting? It is epic theatre.

Nathan Lyon has achieved many things: he has taken 219 Test wickets; he is only 10 Test wickets shy of being tenth on the all-time list of Australian wicket takers; he has jokingly been labelled “the greatest of all time (GOAT)” because no other Australian finger-spinner has taken more wickets. And most importantly in the eyes of Australian audiences, he has achieved cult-hero status.

But, it is time to be honest. Despite his achievements, it is time Nathan Lyon was given a spell. Why? Because he is just not very good. As it stands right now, across almost four completed Tests this summer, he has taken 8 wickets at an average of 59.6. Those are far from a beautiful set of numbers. His figures across the 2016 calendar year make for equally disturbing reading. It was quite obvious that the South Africans badly wanted to attack him (as his 0/146 in the Perth second innings would attest). But to see the Pakistani tail-enders treat him with such contempt on Day 4 was a watershed. He is just not rated.

I get the feeling that skipper Steve Smith has lost faith in him also. And can you blame him? Lyon struggles to bowl a consistent line, and finds it difficult to sustain pressure. He is too easily turned to leg for the pressure-relieving single. He bowls too quickly, and is reluctant to “throw it up”. He can give the impression of still being a work in progress, despite having played Test cricket for over five years.

But now it is time for someone else. Anyone else. A Holland, a Zampa, or an Agar. Time to give someone else a go. Because, the truth is, Nathan Lyon is not the answer.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Peter Warrington says

    yep, i went to bed early from a year best forgotten, but the least surprising thing this morning was that Gaz had 2-100 at 4 an over, again. at least he got a wicket early with a variation on an arm-ball, and I did see him bowl one ball in the 80s.

    I am inclined to think he might bowl better in tandem which is why Maxwell for Maddinson makes some sense. As if (Iqbal). They like tweakers and un-rate leggies, who are too expensive (despite Lyon going at 4 way too often). Zampa could have a crack a year ago, or Sri Lanka.

    they will pick Holland. and then not drop Lyon. They love him. they might have picked O’Keefe, but the moment passed.

    Ashley Mallett and Roo Yardley never got a run like this. surely both were as good if not better?

  2. I really like the way Lyon bowls. He rarely bowls badly. Gets spin. Does all the technical things right.

    But he just doesn’t get enough blooming wickets.

    And as for the commentators saying things like “today will be Lyon’s day” – GTFO!

  3. Hmmm, these last few wickets are being a problem.

    Australia was the first nation to set aside 400+ and lose a test. Ditto in the ODI’s . Can we be the first side to not be able to defend almost 500? Watch this space.


  4. Massive effort by Pakistan. In a way they’ve already won whatever happens from here. But in this year of extraordinary upsets we are witnessing another.

    Starc is a pea heart.

  5. Dips what did Starc do/didn’t do ?

    I’m @ work so i’m picking up occasional update son line, though have no knowledge of why Starc is a pea heart


  6. Smokie unfortunately I agree with you ( and I still think he is our best spinner ) I can’t see any of our so called spinners troubling,India what so ever

  7. Glen! – very poor body language. Ordinary first spell when the game could have been won early today. Bowled a lot of rubbish when the Pakistanis were pressing. I reckon (I could be wrong) that Smith nearly gave up on him. Admittedly he came good a bit at the end. But remember, he was bowling to tail enders!

    He strikes me as a bit of a fair weather competitor.

  8. Well played, Pakistan. Dirk Nannes summed it up on ABC when he said that the final dismissal just about sums up Pakistani cricket.
    Their cricket can be infuriating, exhilarating, disappointing, thrilling – and all in the space of one over.
    Smith’s underuse of Lyon today (3 overs?) validates my position, I reckon. He has no faith in him. Surely his position must be in some doubt for Boxing Day?
    Cranky: Lyon has had an extraordinary run, and does not seem to be critiqued enough either. he commentators are constantly urging Smith to bowl him more, but Smith won’t – that is telling in itself.
    Rulebook: we will never know if others are any good if they can’t get a crack because Lyon keeps getting picked.

  9. Ta Dips.

    Smokie the relationship between Smith and Lyon is a challenge for Australia. Does Smith want a four pronged pace attack for the G; is there another spinner he’d prefer to Lyon? As an Australian off spinner Lyon is G O A T , though there have been concerns re his bowling in the latter stages of a match. True he bowled us to victory over India in Adelaide back in 2014-15, but apart from that he hasn’t set the world on fire in the latter stages of tests.

    It’s a pity Head wasn’t picked for the G test. With the issues re Lyon, compounded by Smith and Warner not bowling Head would have been a handy addition. Maybe for the Indian tour.



  10. Lyon is a confidence bowler, just as Smith is a confidence captain – a bad combination. I don’t think a new spinner is an option because Smith will burn him just as badly (and Holland is injured). If India (and the SCG) wasn’t coming up I doubt Lyon would still be in the team. Beyond that four quicks with one of Head / Maxwell and Smith himself providing part time spin. Maddinson is only in the team because he’s Smith’s buddy.

  11. Lyon made his rep on that last day at Adelaide. But Kohli threw that test away, determined to chase in a show of respect for cricket and Hughes. At one stage, India were 2/234 and Lyon had 1-116 off 25. It was a classic leggie’s last day effort. Take wickets at the end when big shots being played. They toyed with him for most of the day.

    I don’t see anything in his record since then that suggests that Smith should have more confidence than he does. A good but not great bowler, ho has been down on form. A batsman or a quick would be dropped. But he is good around the team and we dropped a heap of guys for no reason, more than 5 years ago. He is the LOAT!

  12. Peter Flynn says

    Relies on bounce rather than side spin.

    A good bowler with deficiencies. Currently needs a better tactical captain, better fields and a better keeper.

    126 wickets in the 1st innings and 93 in the second innings.

    Slightly worse average and strike rate in the 2nd dig.

    Therein lies the frustration me thinks.

    Old Mate Smokie, always enjoy reading your thoughts on the cracket.

  13. bob.speechley says

    I agree it’s time for a change in the spin department. Lyon offers very little to get excited about and isn’t improving with age as good spinners generally do. No obvious variety in his delivery.

    Although he is a Victorian Holland would be a welcome change and Zampa should be looked at closely.

  14. John Butler says

    Smoke, will have to disagree re Lyon. PJF much closer to the mark. A bowler with faults, who loses confidence if he senses others have lost it in him.

    Thought he’d shown a return to form in Adelaide, only for all the pre match speculation (stirred up by Smith) about 4 quicks to send him a message loud and clear. Surprise surprise, Lyon goes back into his shell. Utterly crap man management from the skipper. I think Smith finds managing spinners just too hard. It demands imagination.

    If you want to replace Lyon, name a realistic alternative. No, don’t tell me Steve friggin O’Keefe is an option. I turn more in my bed any givennight than he can spin a ball. Zampa and Agar can’t take wickets reliably in the Shield. They aren’t ready. Holland probably the best performed, but hard to mount much of an argument that he’d be better than Lyon. Another finger spinner.

    Make someone earn the spot, don’t just give it to them for the sake of change. If we’re not careful, we’ll restart the post-Warne conga line the selectors fell for previously.

    Dips, I think Starc has been magnificent these last 12 months. I’d take that pea heart any day.

  15. John, you make some good points. But Lyon didn’t have to earn his spot, he was picked on a few BBL games and groundkeeping ability. LOAT!

    There’s nothing to say that one of the young leggies won’t do as well as he has. We also know our bats play leggies better than most (Warne’s test average was lower than his non-test FC one by about 1.5 runs)

    If nobody steps up, we can pick him again, he is well young enough. It might be the making of him. It would make Smith concede he is the best of an average bunch.

    As much as he might have a confidence thing, surely he also needs a performance thing. 2-100 off 25 at the end of the day is not good enough, and reflects on him, as much as anyone else.

    As i said earlier, i would give him a spin partner to see of that helps. SCG the obvious place for that.
    (I think these are all good reasons for Cam White to be skipper for 2 years so Smith can smash a million runs and watch how it is done.)

    Now, to Warner and his poor run of form and poor shots. When does he go on notice?

  16. The Smith Lyon dynamic does appear to be a problem.

    Smith is too nervy to be patient with Lyon. And granted he does test the patience, particularly in the 2nd innings.

    Left arm orthodox in Australia?

    Only chance of that being successful is if we go back to uncovered wickets.

    If it’s not Lyon, then it has to be a leggie.

    Warner will never come under scrutiny from Ch9. They love him.

  17. And there are many parallels between us and the To and Froms.

    Pea heartedness

    Batting collapses

    Poor record in India (except the KP series in 2012?)

    Poor tactical captaincy, particularly with spinners.

    Influence and importance of T20 and 50 over cricket.

    All rounders

    Next years Ashes should be utterly terrible yet strangely compelling.

    Australia’s tour of India will be hilarious.

  18. yes can we lose a 4-0 series 5-0? that seems possible.

    maybe if we aren’t sure which leggie is best we should pick 2 or even 3 of them. very 1970-1.

  19. the other thing about England is that they have taken to picking 3 spinners. and Root. hope we do that in India:


    and go down spinnin’?

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