Australia’s top off-spinner gets a master class from one of the best ever.
Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan says he is working on a new delivery for Australia’s top spinner Nathan Lyon and expects it to be perfected for their series against Pakistan.
The world’s leading Test wicket taker has been helping Lyon in Colombo and this week agreed to join the Australian coaching team more formally for the showdown with Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in October.
The 42-year-old said that mastering the trick of the “doosra”, a delivery of his that bamboozled batsmen for years, was too difficult for a conventional finger spinner such as Lyon.
Instead they are working on a variation of the “carrom” ball, which has been most famously employed recently by India’s Ravichandran Ashwin.
It can be flicked from the front of the hand to go straight on but can spin like a leg break in the right conditions.
“Doosra is very difficult to teach but we are trying something else like ‘carrom ball’,” Muralitharan said on the Cricket Australia website.
“It’s because he (Lyon) is a finger spinner, and I am mainly a wrist spinner so (for me) to change the wrist position is easy.
“But for a finger spinner to change direction to bowl a doosra it’s harder. So the easiest way for the finger spinners is to learn the carrom ball.”
The Sri Lankan master was full of praise for Lyon, who has established himself as Australia’s premier spinner and recently surpassed the 100 Test wickets milestone.
“In a country like Australia you don’t need many spinners, you need to get the right one,” Muralitharan said.
“I think Nathan Lyon is the answer for any format.
“He spins the ball, he’s confident and he has done well — he has taken more than 100 wickets in Test cricket and has proved himself. So Australia has to persevere with him.”
While Muralitharan is helping Lyon, another key task he has been set by Cricket Australia is to help their batsmen handle Pakistan’s spinners on what are expected to be slow, turning pitches.
“The only thing I can do is that I’m still good enough to bowl my deliveries well, which is what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years playing Twenty20 cricket, so I’ll bowl to those batsmen,” he said.
“Myself and Ajmal are a little bit similar with bowling off-spin, so they might learn from batting in the nets part of what I’m trying to teach them,” he added, referring to Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal, who is among the game’s most potent mystery spinners.
Pakistan have been forced to play their home series at neutral venues, such as the UAE, since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009.