Lyon gets in early for Indian scouting mission

AUSTRALIA'S incumbent Test spinner Nathan Lyon says he does not know what is required to succeed in India but has sought the counsel of Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting as he tries to unlock the secrets to bowling on the subcontinent.

Lyon is facing a challenge from Xavier Doherty to remain Australia's No.1 slow bowler after John Inverarity suggested the position was up for grabs in India.

But it's likely Lyon will have a head start on the Tasmanian. Lyon, as a Test specialist, will be among a batch of players selectors will send over early to India on Thursday to have extra time to adjust to the conditions.

Doherty will be required for the rest of the ODI and Twenty20 games against the West Indies, which finish on February 13 - nine days before the first Test.

Lyon's experience in India is limited to seven overs from four Twenty20 matches during the 2011 Champions League where he claimed one wicket at the cost of 58 runs.

Encouragingly for the off-spinner, he made a promising start to his Test career on similarly spin-friendly wickets in Sri Lanka, where he collected a five-for on debut.

But, as Shane Warne learned, bowling to the Indians on their home patch is far more difficult.

A champion almost everywhere he played, Warne was reduced to a mere mortal in India, where in nine matches across three series he could snare only nine wickets at a modest average of 43.

Offie Nathan Hauritz, Australia's last slow bowler to have a decent run as the country's No.1 spinner before Lyon, has not worn the baggy green since failing in India.

Asked what changes, if any, he would need to make to his game for next month's four-Test series, Lyon said: ''I honestly don't know, it's something I have to explore myself.

''My bowling is totally different to anyone else's which is a big positive,'' Lyon said. ''It will be a big key for me going over early and spending a couple of weeks over there before the first Test. I'll have to do some big training sessions and use the trial games before the first Test to find out what I think is right for the conditions for myself to bowl in.''

Lyon, who returned figures of 1-92 in his latest Shield game against Victoria, discussed his plans with Ponting over breakfast in Canberra this week before the Prime Minister's XI match and has also consulted Clarke and Michael Hussey, both high-class players of spin.

Lyon was not expansive about what was said though did divulge that finding the optimum pace for him to bowl was broached.

If the recent success of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, who bowled with a flatter trajectory in England's series triumph over India, is any guide Lyon is more likely to err on the side of extra speed.

That style is perhaps more suited to Doherty than Lyon, whose loop and drop are considered his strengths. Lyon, however, said he was not daunted by having Doherty nipping at his heels. Last year he held off another left-armer, Michael Beer, by taking his second five-wicket haul when the pair played as spin twins in Trinidad.

''We took two spinners to the West Indies and it was the same story,'' Lyon said. ''Xavier's bowling fantastic, I've been really impressed the way he's going about it in the shorter forms. I'm sure we can bowl in a really good partnership. Whoever the selectors pick will do the right job.''

Lyon, with seven wickets at 41, played only a minor role in Australia's whitewash of India last summer but is looking forward to bowling in more agreeable conditions.

''Hopefully I'll be able to play a few more mind games and be able to get the inside edge a bit more whereas the Australian pitches were pretty batsman-friendly, certainly not very spin-friendly,'' Lyon said.

This story Lyon gets in early for Indian scouting mission first appeared on Brisbane Times.