Lyon is on the right track: Matthews
Nathan Lyon has struggled to get crucial wickets for Australia late in Tests this summer. Photo: Getty Images
Greg Matthews has backed ''Australia's best spinner since Warnie'' and questioned the lack of support for tweakers in the country.
Former Canberra Comet Nathan Lyon has come under fire for struggling to make an impact on the final day of recent Test matches - a time when pitches are meant to favour spinners.
In the Adelaide Test against South Africa, Australia needed just six wickets on the final day to take a 1-0 lead in the series, but its bowlers - with the exception of the lion-hearted Peter Siddle - struggled.
It was expected Lyon would run through the visitors.
While he bowled a marathon 35 overs for the day, his return on day five was just 1-34 - although he did bowl a miserly 24 maidens.
It was a similar story in Hobart against Sri Lanka on Tuesday. This time, from 22 overs, his figures were 0-41.
But former Australian off-spinner Matthews, who played 33 Tests, said Lyon was clearly the country's best option.
Not only was he the best tweaker since the legendary Shane Warne, but he predicted he would also be the best off-spinner since Ashley Mallett.
Matthews said it didn't matter Lyon wasn't taking many wickets on the fifth day; he was taking them earlier in the game and regularly getting four for the game.
For such a young spinner, Matthews felt he was doing a great job and would only get better with age. He pointed to his 56 wickets in 17 Tests at an average of 31.92 as proof of his pedigree.
Lyon was also Australia's leading wicket-taker in the three-Test series against South Africa with 12.
''I think everyone needs to take a massive deep breath and think 'Wow, here's a 25-year-old boy who's played … 17 Tests and is doing a great job for Australia','' Matthews said. ''Let's seriously get in proportion.''
Matthews felt Lyon just needed to make a few minor adjustments to his line and his field settings and things would start to click.
The line he bowled in the first innings at Hobart was perfect and it was just a matter of replicating it more consistently.
''He bowled a great line [in Hobart]; the really fantastic thing for Australia is that here's a bloke who's nowhere near peaking and yet he's doing a super job already,'' he said.
''He'll be the best since Ashley Mallett. He's got some technical issues and he's a young boy coming through … he could improve on some technique, improve on line, improve on field placements.''
He said there was currently a dearth of spinners in Australia.
It was a different matter when Matthews was playing with every state boasting at least one top-class spinner - Murray Bennett, Bob Holland, Ray Bright, Peter Sleep, Tim May, Bruce Yardley, Tom Hogan and Trevor Hohns were plying their trade around the nation.
Matthews questioned why the Australian set-up didn't have a dedicated spin coach when it had almost every other aspect covered.
There were people to look after diet, psychology, batting and bowling - but no spin expert.
It seemed like a glaring omission in this day of professionalism. ''We have Pace [Bowling] Australia, we have batting coaches, we have wicketkeeping coaches, we have fielding coaches, it's amazing that the slow-bowling fraternity, my brothers, are not getting more support,'' he said.
It seems the Australian selectors agree with Matthews on Lyon - he's been named in a 12-man squad for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.