Lyon puts his own spin on reasons for being dropped

Not taking this lying down: Nathan Lyon defends himself. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Not taking this lying down: Nathan Lyon defends himself. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Dumped Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon has broken his silence on his controversial Test axing, challenging coach Mickey Arthur's contention that he is down on self-belief and in need of a technical shake-up.

"To bowl Sachin Tendulkar through the gate you must be doing something right," Lyon declared as Australia began a two-day break before resuming training for next week's third Test.

Australia's front-line spinner for the past 18 months was dropped after the first Test defeat in Chennai and replaced by not one but two alternatives – Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell – for an ultimately even heavier thrashing in Hyderabad.

To hear Arthur talk about Lyon, and then the 25-year-old talk about himself, it is as if they are discussing two different people. The coach intimates that Lyon was battered into a crisis of confidence by M.S.Dhoni in Chennai and says his technique is in need of an update.

The player does not agree. He acknowledges he was very expensive in the first Test but claims the wicket of Tendulkar in particular – one of four he took in that match amid the carnage – had anything but dented his confidence. It was the second time he has dismissed Tendulkar in a Test.

"No, I reckon it's gone up if anything, bowling the best batsman in the world through the gate. As an off-spinner growing up that's what you dream of. My confidence has gone up a level rather than down," Lyon said. "I was quite happy with that. I went for a few runs here and there, but bowling against the best bats in the world in their conditions, they were obviously going to come hard at me playing one spinner in the side.

"The technical stuff ... it's all the same, I haven't changed anything from when I first started bowling for Australia since I was 16."

These are Lyon's most revealing public comments since he was promoted from the Adelaide Oval lawnmower to the Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka in September 2011.

An introvert who favours actions over words, he is generally content to toe the party line. For him of all players to be at odds with the head coach is stunning, and a demonstration of the immediate impact of back-to-back thrashings on this team's psyche.

Lyon was very upset to have been shown the door after only one Test in India and feels the need to defend himself. "Yes, I bowled one maiden in Chennai but they are the best players of spin and that was quite a difficult pitch to bowl on," he said. "It was turning a lot then some weren't turning at all. To have M.S.Dhoni go off like that was something unbelievable and I have taken a lot out of that. I feel I've grown within myself and learnt a lot about my bowling.

"[The selectors said] just that you are missing out this game and we're going in with Xavier and Glenn Maxwell to strengthen the batting. They just explained to me this was the side they have chosen to go forward in this Test and they will reassess from there.

"I had a good chat with Stuart MacGill before [the Hyderabad] Test match and I got a lot out of that just from talking to a past Australian spinner and having a chat with Shane Warne after Chennai was fantastic."

For now Lyon must grit his teeth and try to convince selectors he is worthy of a recall. In years to come, though, when this tour is but forgotten, the Tendulkar ball will live on as one of his favourites.

This story Lyon puts his own spin on reasons for being dropped first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.