An orthodox spinner who has rarely strayed from his stock off-breaks, Lyon teamed up with Australia’s new spin bowling consultant Murali to work on the delivery on a two-day training camp in Sri Lanka this week.
The partnership between Lyon and Murali, who holds the record of 800 test wickets and was a master of the ‘doosra’ — a ball that turns the opposite direction of the off-break — has intrigued cricket fans in Australia.
Local media have speculated that Murali’s appointment would include teaching Lyon how to bowl the carrom, a ball that also turns the other way but with spin imparted by the flicking of the middle finger rather than the wristy action of the doosra.
Lyon, however, said he had been working on a different ball with spin coach John Davison long before teaming up with Murali.
“I certainly haven’t landed in Colombo and suddenly started bowling a new ball,” the 26-year-old said in a Cricket Australia interview.
“I’ve been working on them for a while now, especially with Davo back home.
“So it’s just been good to talk with Murali. We all know how good a bowler Murali was so to have his ideas and feedback about the progression of the ball that Dave and I have come up with has been very helpful.
“It’s definitely not the carrom ball,” he added. “It’s trying to have a different variation, it’s a ball that we’ve come up with working at the spin wicket at the MCC.
“It’s an Australian version of that carrom ball, I guess you could say, but hopefully it’s going to be a different variation.”
Lyon, who has taken 112 wickets in 33 tests at an average of just under 33, has previously experimented with unorthodox deliveries, and unveiled a ball he coined the “Jeff” in 2012 to some success, though it has made few appearances since.
Although Australia’s leading slow bowler and at 26, still developing his craft, Lyon has long lived in the shadow of retired legspinner Shane Warne and never quite been able to silence his critics with a virtuoso match-winning performance.
Murali was once among the critics, and cast doubt on Lyon’s ability to take wickets even on turning pitches after the spinner laboured on a deteriorating Hobart wicket in a 2012 test against Sri Lanka.
The top-ranked test nation, Australia play matches against Pakistan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and Lyon may need to play a leading role on the pitches in Gulf where the powers of fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris may be blunted.
“Murali’s been really good to talk to about training methods and especially having different tactics on-field against the Pakistanis in the UAE (United Arab Emirates),” Lyon said.
“We don’t know what we’re going to get over there in the UAE … It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)