The Ashes: How Australian spinner Nathan Lyon helped extend England's misery

  • 08/12/2017
Lyon is the world's leading wicket-taker for the calendar year with 57 scalps.
Lyon is the world's leading wicket-taker for the calendar year with 57 scalps. Photo credit: Getty

It wasn't quite a mystery ball but Nathan Lyon cooked up something special with his spin mentor prior to the Ashes day-night Test.

Lyon is in career-best form, having been arguably Australia's most potent weapon in the ongoing series and taking a world-best 57 Test wickets for 2017.

The offspinner bowled brilliantly in Brisbane but is never interested in resting on his laurels.

Lyon and spin mentor John Davison worked closely in the Adelaide Oval nets prior to the second Test, wanting to ensure he continued to stay on top of England.

"We've spoken a lot about developing a ball that hits the stumps, particularly to left-handers," Davison told reporters in Perth, where he is coaching the Cricket Australia XI in a tour game against England that starts on Saturday.

"He bowled a lot more of it in the Adelaide Test.

"He can just keep getting better and better, particularly now that he's got such good control of his stock ball which is so effective.

"He's the best spin bowler in the world ... he's got three subcontinent spinners above him in the world rankings but they're playing over 50 per cent of their matches in spin-friendly conditions."

Lyon's direct approach snapped England's 53-run opening stand in their second innings, with Alastair Cook pinned lbw.

The contrast to last year, when Lyon would have been dropped for the day-night Test in Adelaide if not for Steve O'Keefe's calf injury, could not be more frank.

Lyon, who could break the 300-wicket mark this summer if he continues to trouble England, lost form and confidence amid a five-Test losing streak that almost cost him his place in the XI.

Davison feels the finger spinner copped unwarranted pressure given how Australia's batsmen folded throughout that slump.

"He was thrown under the bus a little bit, in terms of when we went through that little bad period 12 months ago," he said.

"I don't think he was actually bowling as badly as his figures may have suggested.

"The majority of his career he's been battling for a steady position in the team, in general they've been looking for who is coming through rather than possibly backing him to the hilt."

AAP