Ashes 2015: Nathan Lyon, the king of spin, could steal the show for us

AUSSIE ANGLE: I love Nathan Lyon, he is now the leading off-spinner in Australian Test history

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The Independent Online

I love our off-spinner Nathan Lyon. He has a bit of Bill Murray’s character Carl Spackler from the movie Caddyshack about him, and they are both former greenkeepers. It’s a bit of a Cinderella story too, the way he progressed to the Test side after his days as a young cricketer at the Adelaide Oval, opening the bowling for the South Australia Redbacks in the T20 competition – a form of the game  he rarely plays in these days. He is now the leading off-spinner in Australian Test history, with 153 wickets. 

On non-spinning days like Saturday, he generally bowls around the wicket and cramps the  right-hand batsmen’s room, as opposed to tempting them into cover drives. The Jos Buttler dismissal was a classic for this type of tactic. Buttler played down the wrong line, assuming there would be some spin, and he got the faintest of outside edges that only Steve Smith, with his bionic hearing, picked up. I’m not sure if Buttler’s wicket was the result of Lyon’s arm ball, the slope angle or a hint of reverse spin. Nathan is going to be a handful for the English left-handers on day four and five, when it starts to spin.

Buttler is a walker. He didn’t look like he was going to be given out by umpire Dharmasena who, not so subtly, changed from shaking to nodding his head when he noticed Buttler had walked.

 

Walking must be instinctive. Whatever your first instinct is, walk or stay, just do it. Over the years there have been stories of batsmen who would play the game both ways, walking for the obvious ones and getting a reputation as a walker, then not moving for the close ones and getting the decision going their way.

Strategically, in this ultra professional era, it makes sense to stay and let the umpires make their decision, or use technology to help. Umpires are human beings after all and the best ICC panel umpires make the correct decision over 90 per cent of the time, which is excellent.

Ethically walking if you know you are out helps the umpires and moves the game on quicker. Generally, Australians don’t walk. In Australian cricket history, the only walker pre-Adam Gilchrist was Max Walker, and then it was in name only.

The Australian bowlers toiled manfully on a pitch that had less life than planet Mars. The pace of the fast bowling trio was excellent. Josh Hazlewood’s bounce, Mitchell Johnson’s hostility and Mitchell Starc’s swing also meant they came up with excellent variety for the English batsmen to counter.

Mitchell Marsh’s extra pace was important as well. He took a couple of big wickets, too, Ben Stokes for 87 and Alastair Cook, for a patient 96.  Both were dismissed by inside edges played on to their stumps. I’m not sure if he has been practising that type of dismissal bowling to his dad, the former Test opener Geoff Marsh who used to play on quite a bit later in his career.

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Jos Buttler walks after Peter Nevill’s catch

Skipper Michael Clarke doesn’t do follow-ons. He would rather take the bat-again option, raising the question, when will Australia declare? Under the “Pup” captaincy regime he generally surprises everyone with his declaration to give the Australia the maximum time to get 10 wickets.

On a wearing Lord’s pitch, inconsistent bounce and reverse swing, as well as some Lyon spin, would be England’s major worry in attempting to save this Test.

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