Lyon will no longer be battered with advice on how to improve his game
Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon has received a lot of advice on how to improve his bowling over the past year, but lately he believes that there are too many people telling him things from how to correct his action to bowling more unorthodox deliveries and in order to ensure that he does not get overwhelmed, Cricket Australia have decided to designate a handful of specialists to support him throughout the course of the next couple of series.
During the recently concluded three-Test series against South Africa, Lyon was indirectly receiving help from former Australian spinner Ashley Mallett through head coach Mickey Arthur.
However, Arthur, along with recently appointed spin coach Steve Rixon have teamed together with bowling coach Ali de Winter to form a group committed to helping and supporting Lyon with his bowling.
Earlier in the year, Lyon had noted how he was getting bogged down by the heaps of advice constantly being thrown at him, but Arthur, Rixon, de Winter and South Australia coach Darren Berry have worked closely with Lyon to examine his bowling action and technique.
Berry mainly helped Lyon during the Sheffield Shield season, while the trio of Arthur, Rixon and de Winter are set to alongside Lyon pretty much all-year round.
“We’re filtering it through the people he knows best,” Arthur told ESPNcricinfo. “Darren Berry and SA have done a really good job with him, Steve Rixon within my support staff is a really experienced coach and has been very good with him as well. They’ve built a good relationship so he’s been monitoring those messages, and I wanted to have a chat with Ashley Mallett because he’s so knowledgeable on spin bowling and he confirmed what we were doing with Nathan. So I opened up a nice little communication channel there.
“I just asked Ashley if he had anything he could mention to me. I’ve designated Steve Rixon within our squad as working with Nathan and I’m really happy they’ve got a good relationship going. Our messages are very consistent with the messages of Darren Berry. Everybody is saying exactly the same thing and that’s the message being delivered to Nathan within our team. That to me is really important, that the players are getting the same messages and not a conflicting message.”
One person that is extremely pleased to see Lyon finally getting all the help he needs is Australia Test captain Michael Clarke, who took a great catch at slip to give the off-spinner his first Test wicket off his first delivery in Test cricket against Sri Lanka at Galle last year.
Clarke knows that if Lyon continues to work on his flight and variations, then he could soon become one of the most useful and economical bowlers in the Test side.
Talking about Lyon’s new back-spinner delivery, Clarke said: “Well, we’re calling it a doosra more than a back-spinner, it’s something he’s worked on and it was nice to see him get a wicket with it [in the] last Test match, so hopefully we’ll see him get plenty more wickets for Australia with balls spinning in both directions.”
Clarke added: “He can contain if he has to and we can dictate that by the fields we have, but then if there’s an opportunity for Nathan to put more pressure on the [batsmen] I think he’s got the skill to be able to do that as well. He’s bowling well, I thought he came back really well in Brisbane and that shows his character. I know he wants to do well in front of his home crowd, but as I’ve said to Nathan plenty of times he needs to keep doing exactly what he’s doing, don’t change a thing and he’ll continue to have success at the highest level.”
Even South Africa captain Graeme Smith agreed with Clarke’s views about Lyon and added that the he could go on to become one of the greatest spinners Australia have ever produced.
“Nathan has proven to be a solid performer for Australia,” Smith said. “That’s exactly how we view him, we haven’t taken an arrogant view of him, maybe some other people have. We respect what he is capable of and he will play a role in this game.”