Brad Haddin advises patience with Lyon
Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has counselled the national selectors to be patient with fledgling spin bowler Nathan Lyon, and said that Lyon has plenty of development ahead before his talent can bloom fully.
Lyon, 23, scooped 5 for 34 in his first Test innings but struggled a little in his second, when, according to Haddin, fatigue affected his work. Until this year's Australian winter, Lyon had never put his body through the rigours of pre-season training, and his slight, wispy frame can only grow in strength and durability.
"I think it's important that we're patient with him," Haddin said. "We can't expect all these spinners to come in and be world-beaters. We've just got to make sure we're clear in what we expect from them and what he expects from himself.
"He's only five games into a first class career but [from] what we've seen, he has got good shape on the ball. He is a work in progress so he's only going to get better and better as time goes on. We all know we've got to be patient with the spinners and give them an opportunity to develop."
Haddin said Lyon's drift was comparable to that of the England offspinner Graeme Swann, but also felt he had some distance to go before he was a fully-formed cricketer.
"I think Nathan has obviously got something pretty special in him but he's obviously got a bit of work to do on his bowling and he knows that," Haddin said. "It was good that he got the rewards in the first innings; get that first ball out of the way, get his wicket and get into a spell.
"From keeping to him, he's got similar drift to what Swann has. He's got quite a nice little shape on it … I think he's got something there that's going to be pretty good for Australian cricket."
Most of Lyon's spin bowling apprenticeship took place in the Futures League second XI competition with the ACT, in three-day matches with over restrictions. The questions asked of physical recovery were less taxing; something Lyon discovered when he made his first-class debut for South Australia towards the end of last summer.
"He obviously got a bit tired and that could come from the fact he actually hasn't played that much four-day cricket at all," Haddin said. "He's just got to make sure he's doing what works for him. Whether that's going outside off stump or going tight into the stumps, because he's got that natural drift.
"I think in the future he's going to be someone that's very handy to us but he's got to develop. We've all got to be sure we're patient with that and not pushing him too quick or expecting him to jump over mountains straight away."
By contrast, Lyon's childhood friend Trent Copeland looked ready for the physical and mental rigours of Tests, bowling with tremendous consistency throughout the Galle Test without much reward in the wickets column.
"With Trent I thought we got exactly what we would have expected over the last two years. Seeing him for New South Wales, he's very consistent in what he bowls," Haddin said. "He knows he's not going to blast anyone out but what he can do is shut a scoreboard down and build pressure from one end so you can roll the other guys from the other end. He did a good job there."
Haddin enlarged upon the tactical battles between Copeland and Sri Lanka's batsmen, who sought to decrease his effectiveness by batting well down the pitch.
"They were batting out of the crease and starting to walk into his line," Haddin said. "The one thing Trent's very good at is building pressure and he knows exactly where he wants to put the ball. We wanted to make sure we blocked that end, so we thought the best way sometimes was for me to go up to the stumps to stop them walking into his line, working the ball on the legside to get some pace on the ball.
"It seemed to work for the last Test, whether we do the same for this Test, I'm not too sure. Because, especially with the old ball, the wicket was so dead, it just took one of their scoring options out of play and allowed us to build some pressure from that end."
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