Steve Smith

Smith excited by Lyon mystery ball

Batsman lauds progress after up-close look

He’s only bowled it a few times, but ‘Jeff’, Nathan Lyon’s mystery ball, is coming along well, according to team-mate Steve Smith.

After facing Lyon in the Sydney Cricket Ground nets yesterday, Smith confirmed the variation the Test spinner has been working on with the world’s greatest wicket-taker Muthiah Muralidaran is showing promise, but we shouldn’t expect to see it just yet.

“He’s bowled me the ‘Jeff’ a few times in the nets,” Smith told

“It’s still a work in progress for him. He’s told me that he’s got to gain the confidence to be able to bowl it in a game, but every time he’s bowled it, it’s come out pretty well.

“It’s a key for him to keep working on it and get it to the stage where he’s confident he can land it nine out of ten times and be able to execute it well.”

Under the tutelage of Muralidaran and spin coach John Davison, Lyon spent five days in Sri Lanka in June to focus on off-spin bowling and developing a ball “that goes the other way”.

"(The camp) ticked a lot of boxes for me, so now I'm looking forward to getting home and hopefully putting a few things into practice," Lyon told in Colombo. 

"It's just been good to talk to Murali. We all know how good a bowler Murali was, so to have his ideas and feedback about the progression of the ball that 'Davo' (Davison) and I have come up with, it's been very helpful."

Lyon also pointed out at the time that the new delivery he is toying with has been in the works for some time. 

"I certainly haven't landed in Colombo and suddenly started bowling a new ball," the 26-year-old said. "It's a big help having Murali though.

"It's definitely not the carrom ball (that I'm working on) – it's trying to have a different variation. So it's a ball that we've come up with working in spin week at the NCC (National Cricket Centre).”

Smith and Lyon were selected in the 14-man squad to tour Zimbabwe for the One-Day International tri-series against the host nation and South Africa starting later this month, awarded first crack to impress ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.

Smith believes Lyon has what it takes to excel at ODI level, backing the spinner to succeed in conditions in which he’s already dominated, even if the man himself was somewhat surprised by his selection.  

“I think he was very surprised,” Smith said of Lyon’s reaction to the news.

“He’s worked really hard and bowled really well in the games of Big Bash he played last year and in the Ryobi Cup as well.

“I’m certainly not surprised. I had a hit against him this morning and he pulled the white ball out for the first time in a while.

“He bowled really well and I’m looking forward to him playing, and hopefully doing well, too.”