Rookie Murphy could partner Lyon in India

Scott Bailey |

Young spinner Todd Murphy is a chance at a Test debut in India after chief selector George Bailey confirmed he would be willing to partner him with Nathan Lyon next month.

Murphy was named in his maiden Test squad on Wednesday, as one of four spinners for the four-Test tour alongside Lyon, Ashton Agar, and Mitchell Swepson.

The 22-year-old’s call-up comes after seven first-class matches, but while also impressing selectors on last year’s A tour of Sri Lanka and an academy in India.

“It will be fantastic for him to get back around this group. Absolutely, he’s a chance to play,” Bailey said.

“It’s certainly not a development tour. He’s earned his spot through his performances and what we think he can do.”

Murphy is the one uncapped name in Australia’s 18-man squad, which is designed to cover all bases for next month’s tour.

Peter Handscomb has earned a recall to add batting depth alongside Matthew Renshaw, with the Victorian set for scans on his hip after a blow in club cricket.

Marcus Harris is the man to miss out after being in Australia’s Test squad all summer, while white-ball spinner Adam Zampa was another in contention but overlooked.

Five quicks have been selected, with Lance Morris there as cover again behind Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Scott Boland.

Starc will miss the first Test through his finger injury and fly over after, but officials are optimistic Cameron Green will be able to start the series on February 9.

How Australia prioritise their spinners will also be of interest with no stand-out second option behind Lyon.

Agar was the man selected in Sydney last week, and while he went wicketless through 22 overs Bailey insisted he would be “better for the run”.

Historically, Australia have preferred to have spinners who turn the ball in different ways if they play in tandem, opening the door for left-armer Agar or legspinner Swepson.

Playing into that is the fact main part-time spinner Travis Head also turns the ball in the same direction as Lyon.

That had prompted the thought right-arm offspinner Murphy would only play if Australia went for the extreme option of three spinners and one quick alongside allrounder Green.

But Bailey said that would not necessarily be the case, and it was possible Murphy could partner Lyon in matches where Australia pick two spinners.

“Whether he can play alongside Gaz is a question, but they are different as far as offspinners go,” Bailey said. 

“So I don’t think you’re necessarily looking at the same type of bowler. 

“When you’re putting any attack together, you’re after complementary skills and wanting to make sure you cover as many bases as you can.

“But you often play two right-handed quicks if they’re your best two. That’s something we’ll weigh up.”

Australia could make further changes to the squad between the second Test in Delhi and the third in Dharamsala.


Pat Cummins (capt), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.