Aussie spinner queue grows again as Lyon backs under-pressure star
Nathan Lyon has backed Mitchell Swepson to complete an Australia “two-spin operation” despite speculation selectors are keeping their options open in Sri Lanka.
Swepson is the last specialist spinner to bowl in tandem with Lyon in a Test match as Australia clinched victory against Pakistan in the final session of the final day of the third and final Test in March.
But Lyon did the heavy lifting, taking 5-83 in the fourth innings in Lahore while Swepson went wicketless for the entire Test, ending the series with two wickets at 133.00 and a strike rate of 272.
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True that those figures don’t tell the full story — Swepson was somewhat down on his luck, particularly during the second Test when a number of close calls didn’t go his way.
Nonetheless, the pressure will be on for Swepson come the first Test against Sri Lanka next week, providing he is selected.
Lyon suggested that he will be, saying that he was happy with his partnership with Swepson on Pakistan wickets that “did nothing”.
“I was really happy and really pleased with our partnership in Pakistan,” Lyon said.
“I know he (Swepson) probably didn’t have the ideal tour, but he’s a very team focused player and we got the right team result.
“I’m really happy with our partnership. I think there’s still a lot of learning for both of us, especially in this part of the world.
“We’re excited for the challenges coming up, we know it’s going to be hard work, but it’s going to be pretty enjoyable.”
It’s worth noting, however, that Australia preferred two-ODI player Matthew Kuhnemann over Swepson for game two against Sri Lanka this week.
Kuhnemann is not without some strong red ball credentials either. He was one of the breakout stars of the last Sheffield Shield season, in which he claimed 25 wickets at 21.88 for Queensland. No spinner took more wickets for the season.
Australia has also added Victoria’s Jon Holland — who played in the nation’s last tour of Sri Lanka — to its A squad to face the hosts in a four-day match starting Tuesday. Holland picked up 20 wickets at 32.10 for Victoria in the most recent Shield season.
The spinners are queuing up with Holland joining Tanveer Sangha and Todd Murphy in the squad, while Kuhnemann, Swepson, Lyon and the injured Ashton Agar make it seven Australian tweakers on the ground in Sri Lanka.
While selection changes can be made, only Agar, Lyon and Swepson were picked in the Test squad when it was announced in April.