Heat on Lyon after Test squad named

Last updated 15:44 31/01/2013

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National selector John Inverarity has turned up the heat on Nathan Lyon by suggesting the lead spinner's role could be up for grabs in India.

One of the most contentious positions in the touring party of 17 is that of Xavier Doherty, who grabbed a seat on the plane in the absence of injured left-arm orthodox spinners Michael Beer and Jon Holland.

One option during the four-Test series starting in Chennai on February 22 is to team Lyon with Doherty in an attack comprising two pacemen and seam-bowling all-rounder Moises Henriques.

Another is to play three quicks, one specialist spinner and off-spinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell. In that scenario, Inverarity suggested Lyon, the incumbent, does not have a mortgage on the main spinner's position.

"Another alternative is to play three pace bowlers, our leading spinner, whether that be Xavier Doherty or Nathan Lyon, then have the back-up with the all-rounder being Glenn Maxwell."

Doherty, who edged out Steve O'Keefe, has a first-class bowling average of 44.78 and endured a harrowing Test initiation against England's batsmen during the ill-fated 2010-11 Ashes.

"We certainly feel he is much improved in the longer format of the game since he made his Test debut in 2010-11 against England," Inverarity said.

"It is a long tour and a very important one as we look to continue our improvement in Test cricket and our quest to return to the top of the ICC Test cricket rankings. We are also building towards back-to-back Ashes series".

He expressed confidence that David Warner will be fit for the first Test.

The selection panel did not feel the need to name a standby batsman for Warner, who has a "slightly" fractured thumb and is expected to miss the one-day series against the West Indies.

James Pattinson, whose comeback from a rib injury has been carefully managed by Cricket Australia, returns to the squad alongside the left-arm quicks Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson, newcomer Jackson Bird and the leader of the attack, Peter Siddle.

Ben Hilfenhaus was not considered because he is on the comeback trail from a side injury but the swing bowler is expected to remain in contention for the Ashes.

The squad will leave for India in two batches, with an advance party to depart on Thursday for a red-ball camp in Chennai, and the rest of the squad to follow a week later.

Inverarity said that the composition of the squad has been "carefully thought out" to have the flexibility required to deal with varying Indian conditions.

"The thinking is we need more than four bowlers..." he said.

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Inverarity said the selectors feel there is a need to develop all-rounders, particularly with Shane Watson unable to bowl due to injury concerns. He described Henriques as a "young cricketer of great potential".

The strongly-built New South Welshman averages 30 with the bat and 27 with the ball after 38 first-class matches. He has had an outstanding Sheffield Shield season so far, reaping 385 runs at 77, and 14 wickets at 18 in five matches.

Doherty has two wickets at 80 from four Shield matches this season.

Australian test Squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Moises Henriques, James Pattinson, Xavier Doherty, Jackson Bird, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith.

- The Age

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