Two spinners in an Australian side always seems a little off kilter, a bit like a burger without beetroot or a $2.50 snag at a Bunning’s sausage sizzle.
It’s just not quite right – in our great Southern Land, Australian fans are used to seeing three big quicks charging in, playing aggressive, in-your-face cricket.
Go back to the days of Lillee and Thompson rampaging to the popping crease, hair everywhere, shirts unbuttoned to the waist. This imagery sticks with cricket fans around the world and has cemented this style of bowling into our cricketing culture.
We have always been able to produce world-class fast bowlers; spinners, on the other hand, are a bit tougher to find.
When speaking spin in Australia, the one and only Shane Keith Warne stands alone. He broke the mould of spinners in Australia and became the most intimidating spin bowler – if not player – in the world.
He followed the attitude of the great Australian bowlers before him; his swagger and confidence at the crease had never been present in a spin bowler before.
However, this attitude did play a vital role in creating one of the most torrid relationships in Australian cricket.
Yes, this was with the super-talented Stuart MacGill.
It was a tale of two star-crossed lovers, MacGill and Warne. Both world-class spinners, but in Australia there was only room for one spinner.
MacGill was an intermittent member of the national and played the majority of his career in Warne’s shadow, yet finished with 208 Test wickets.
In 2016, we are seeing two spinners vie for the same spot again in the Test team: veteran Nathan Lyon and young sensation Adam Zampa.
They’re not in the same league as Warne and MacGill. But it begs the question of whether having two spinners in an Australian team will ever work?
There are scenarios when two spinners are needed in a side – predominantly in the subcontinent, or when England prepare a raging turner at Cardiff (see the 2009 Ashes series).
But does the ‘Australian way’ of playing cricket make having two spinners in the side impossible.
We want our spinners to take wickets, tie up batsmen and bowl well on the first day of a Test match. This incredibly difficult task is what the Australian selectors now expect since the ‘Warnie’ era.
We have been unable to find one bowler who can single handedly provide both these skills and since Warne’s retirement. Since then, there has been a revolving door of spinners.
So surely having two spinners could do the job and solve the selectors’ issues.
Lyon has become Australia’s highest-ever wicket-taking Test off-spinner, but still he receives regular criticism.
Zampa could be the man to improve this partnership. Working alongside Lyon could provide the support and guidance needed to take his bowling to the next level.
— Cricket Insiders (@CricketInsiders) June 12, 2016
Can Lyon act as a mentor for Zampa?
Lyon told Cricket Australia he is keen to build this duel spinning attack as Zampa improves.
“He’s developing into a great spinner,” said Lyon
“He’s backed himself. He understands where his game is at.
“He trusts his spinning ability and he’s come along in leaps and bounds.
“We’re really good mates … I’ve known him for a few years now.
“Hopefully if we get the chance to play out there in the middle together, we can win a couple of games for Australia.”
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) June 6, 2016