Debate over the selection of Australia’s second Test team is growing louder as the visitors lick their wounds after their heavy defeat in Chennai.
Former Australian spin great Shane Warne wants a second spinner added to the bowling attack for Saturday’s second Test at Hyderabad.
"If the best spinning option is to add (Xavier) Doherty to (Nathan) Lyon … they should do that,’’ Warne told Fox Sports.
Warne had earlier talked at length with Australian captain Michael Clarke about the composition of the team.
Former pace superstar Glenn McGrath has expressed concern at the prospect of James Pattinson, Australia’s only penetrating bowler in the first Test, being rested in Hyderabad.
"When I played, I wouldn’t have even considered resting … regardless of how many overs I had bowled," McGrath told SEN on Wednesday morning.
However McGrath understood the issue facing selectors, saying Pattinson was a "class act, but unfortunately he plays a few Tests and then he breaks down".
Pattinson bowled only six overs in two spells on day two of the first Test, despite taking three early wickets in the Indian first innings. He went on to bowl 30 overs, taking 5-96.
Australia is being widely pilloried for relying on pace in its first Test failure, in which Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin routed the visitors with 12 wickets, but the spin-bowling options lack credentials.
Warne’s choice Doherty took just two first-class wickets in two matches this summer, at an average of 80. He took 3-108 off 24 overs against India A in a tour match. An accomplished one-day tweaker, Doherty has taken three wickets in two Tests at an average of 108, being jettisoned after taking 1-158 off 27 overs against England in Adelaide in 2010. His overall first-class record is 122 wickets from 52 games at 44.56.
All-rounder Steve Smith, a shock selection in the Test squad, has taken three Test wickets in five matches at 73, and has become more of a part-time bowler since his last Test in January 2011.
Inexperienced Victorian off-spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell seems to have stronger claims, having taken his 27 first-class wickets at 33, but his bowling has tended to play second fiddle to his batting, especially in short-form cricket. He averages 42 from his 24 first-class knocks.
As captain Michael Clarke said after the first Test loss: "We are not India."
"We are a different team. We have different fast bowlers to the Indian fast bowlers. We have different spinners to the Indian spinners."
Clarke said the fine debut of seam-bowling all-rounder Moises Henriques, including two half-centuries, meant the Australians could consider playing two spinners and two frontline quicks this weekend.
"If we don’t have a third fast bowler Moises can certainly do that role," Clarke said.
"It’s very exciting the way he has started.
"He looked very comfortable with both bat and ball.
Even opposing captain M.S. Dhoni sympathised with Australia’s dilemma.
"If you see Australia now they rely a lot on their fast bowlers," Indian captain Dhoni said.
"At the start of this series they wanted to go with what their strength was. After four days of cricket maybe Michael [Clarke] would think it would have been better if they would have gone with another spinner.
"But at times it’s easier to decide on these things once a Test match is over because then you have the whole result in front of you."
Clarke said he could not yet determine the make-up of the second Test attack.
"I need to see conditions in Hyderabad, wait and see what the wicket is like, and then the selectors can meet and make a call on that."
History says the change of venue will not change Australia’s fortunes.
In the most recent Test played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, in August 2012, first-Test destroyer Ashwin had match figures of 12-85, and spinners took 18 of 20 wickets as India crushed New Zealand by an innings and 115 runs.
The only other Test played at the venue, also between New Zealand and India in 2010, ended in a high-scoring draw, with spinners taking 15 of the 28 wickets on offer.
Right now, with scarce spin bowling stocks and its best fast bowler a possible absentee, Australia might settle for the latter result.
- Promising Australian paceman Jackson Bird has been sent home from the Indian tour with a back injury. Cricino reports that he will undergo precautionary scans after reporting pain following his stints in the two Test lead-up games.
- with AAP