Little help, Pup? Nathan Lyon could have done without shouldering the load in Chennai
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WHAT WE LEARNED: It's time for the selectors to splash out on pay TV, and a different pitch isn't always a bad thing.
The spirit of Merv lives on (sadly)
Merv Hughes is no longer a member of the Australian selection panel but his legacy lives on in at least part of the current group's thinking. Hughes famously refused to sign up to Foxtel during his stint as a selector, meaning he missed out on watching all the cricket he possibly could. It seems like John Inverarity and company may have the same strategy as they clearly didn't watch the India v England Test series.
That is the only possible way to explain the decision to play just one full time spinner in the first Test. England made the exact same mistake in the opening match of their series, leaving the spinning duties solely to Graeme Swann and they failed just as spectacularly. The Poms were beaten by nine wickets and Swann - one of the best offies in world cricket - took 6/190 for the match. They quickly learnt their lesson and included a second spinner. England went on to win the series, 2-1. Hopefully the Aussies follow suit, although it would have been even better if had we learnt from England's original mistake.
Don't blame the pitch
There has been a lot of derision levelled at the Chennai pitch from Australian cricket writers, but there was nothing wrong with it from a cricket purist's point of view. There were runs to be had, but they were never easy (aside from Dhoni's double ton, which was a different matter entirely) and it was possible to take enough wickets. With all the roads cropping up in world cricket, this was always a pitch designed to get a result. Australia's failure to pick an appropriate side for the conditions is far more of an issue.
Tendulkar will definitely add to his ton tally
The Little Master was hopelessly out of form during the series against England but Aussie hopes of claiming Sachin Tendulkar's wicket cheaply this series were dashed in the first innings. He seems to have every one of his vast array of tools back at his disposal and it took the best ball Nathan Lyon bowled in the match to get him out. Considering the attack Australia has available for the rest of the series, we think at least one more ton is a certainty.
The selectors didn't get it all wrong
While Inverarity and his mates have been copping it all summer about the rotation policy and selection decisions that don't seem based on form, no one ever points out when they get something right. When Moises Henriques was picked in the squad to travel to India, they were pilloried for what seemed like a crazy decision. He then played pretty handily in two (forgettable) tour games but his selection for the first Test still had some baying for blood.
It was a huge gamble by the selectors, and one that paid off handsomely. They could have played it safe and gone with an extra batsman or a spinning all-rounder, but instead they stuck with the tour form. Australia would have been in a lot more trouble if he wasn't in the line-up.
- If a bowler is in the side, he should be assumed to be 100 per cent fit. The decision to bowl James Pattinson in three-over spurts on day two cost the Aussies dearly.
- Harbhajan Singh played his 100th Test and it will most likely be his last. Pragyan Ojha will definitely come into the Indian side in the next Test. It is just a matter of whether they drop a pace bowler or a spinner.
- Nathan Lyon copped a lot of stick for going for 215 runs in the first innings, but he is still a markedly better spin bowler than Xavier Doherty, Glenn Maxwell or Steve Smith. What he needs is a tweaking partner so he doesn't have to do all the grunt work himself.
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