15/04/2024

Former Blackcaps captian and now Australian assistant coach Daniel Vettori. Image: @TherealPCB, Twitter

Could former New Zealand captain and current Australian assistant coach Daniel Vettori could be the missing piece to fix Australia’s spinning woes in India across the past two decades?

Australia will undergo the hardest cricketing challenge in its first Test series of 2023, touring India. Having not won in India since 2004, Australia has chosen four spinners to represent them as they try to combat the difficult sub-continent conditions and pitches.

Chosen by Andrew McDonald to join his new-look Australia’s coaching staff back in May last year, Daniel Vettori’s experience in the sub-continent will give Australia an added edge to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He will also provide the spinners as a mentor, especially Todd Murphy who is yet to play an international test match.

In his playing days with New Zealand, Vettori played 113 Tests, taking 362 wickets throughout a range of conditions and pitches. An experienced veteran, Vettori knows full well what conditions the Aussie spinners will face in India.

Surprisingly, in all the conditions Vettori played in, he found the most success playing in the sub-continent region. Playing matches in Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka where the conditions suited him, he achieved nine out of his 20 career five-wicket hauls.

Vettori was a crucial part of the squad in 2022 when Australia travelled to Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Knowing the pitches in India will be predictable he will help the spinner adjust to the conditions to the best of his knowledge.

“In a lot of ways, it’s been nice to have a subcontinent tour of Pakistan, then here [in Sri Lanka] and build towards India. Conditions will be very different. We will get a lot of variation from venue to venue,” Vettori said in the lead-up to the tour of India.

“You could get anything in between. If you play at Mohali, it is going to be flat, if you play at Wankhede, it could turn square like here. You can’t just have one plan”

Speaking to the media after the squad was announced, Chair of Selectors George Bailey was asked on how important Vettori will be to the squad, especially the spinners.

“The type of person he is and the way that he engages with all the bowling group not necessarily just the spinners, (but) all (of) the group in its entirety will be fantastic,” Bailey said.

“He’s obviously had a wide range of playing experience in the subcontinent, coaching experience as well in the subcontinent.”

“His ability to work with the spinners (is amazing) and that goes from someone like Nathan Lyon, who’d you classify a thinker as well as experienced in those conditions to some of the guys who haven’t had the opportunity to play as much in the subcontinent.”

“I think he’ll be a wonderful sounding board and coach for those guys.”

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Out of all the four spinners chosen to represent Australia, Nathan Lyon is the only one who has had any experience playing India. The other three will need to adjust quickly to the conditions under Vettori’s guidance.

Uncapped Victorian off-spinner Todd Murphy will join the Australian set-up for the first time, while Mitchell Swepson will return to the squad once again. Murphy and Swepson will join Nathan Lyon and bowling all-rounder Ashton Agar in the squad.

Unable to find consistency in South Africa’s tour of Australia, Nathan Lyon will be looking to reclaim the form that has made him Australia’s all-time best off-spinner. While Ashton Agar will be hoping for a successful tour campaign as he tries to book a place in the squad for the upcoming Ashes in England.

“Ashton Agar continues to impress following his comeback in Sydney and we believe left-arm finger spin will play an important role in Indian conditions,” selector George Bailey said at the squad announcement.

“Mitchell Swepson has recent Test experience in the sub-continent and offers leg-spinning variety.”

“Todd Murphy has progressed quickly having impressed in domestic cricket and recently with Australia A. With those performances Todd has emerged as a strong spin option.”

Todd Murphy is one of four spinners that will make the trip over to India. (Photo: Cricket Australia)

“Selection in this squad also provides another opportunity to spend time alongside Nathan Lyon and assistant coach Daniel Vettori in India which will be invaluable to his development.”

Whoever is chosen to represent Australia in the starting eleven will have to come up against the pair of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin. The pair each took 20 wickets the last time Australia visited India.

On top of Todd Murphy’s inclusion into the squad, his Victorian team-mate Peter Handscomb has returned to the Australian squad in favour of Marcus Harris. Despite his selection, there has been a twist in the tale for Handscomb.

Less than 24 hours before being officially named to the squad, he was hit on the hip while trying to play a pull shot at a club cricket game. According to Bailey, he will undergo scans tomorrow to determine the injury’s extent.

“Pete’s got a scan tomorrow morning, I believe to check on that. He’s confident it’s nothing too serious,” Bailey said.

“He just caught copped a ball on the back hip and then three balls later, I think he just hit one and just felt something gave a little bit in there. So I don’t really have any more information than that.”

“We’ll get the scan tomorrow. Clearly, There’s still quite a bit of time between now and when we depart and even when the first test is, so we’ll work through that as we get more information.”

Australia Full Squad for the Tour of India

Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

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