The Investec Ashes 2013

Lyon presses for recall as six rested

Daniel Brettig

July 24, 2013

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Nathan Lyon sends down a delivery, West Indies v Australia, 3rd Test, Roseau, 5th day, April 27, 2012
Nathan Lyon said it was tough to take being left out for 19-year-old Ashton Agar © Associated Press
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Nathan Lyon has the chance to press for a Test match recall against Sussex this week as Australia named a hodgepodge XI for the three-day match starting on Friday that includes the Hampshire Academy scholar Ashton Turner, one of three spinners in the team.

The decision to rest the captain Michael Clarke, plus his deputy Brad Haddin, Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris has bizarrely left a 16-man squad - minus the injured James Pattinson and the absent David Warner - two players short of the numbers required for the tour match, forcing the Western Australian Turner to be included while the young South Australia batsman Travis Head is 12th man. Ashton Agar is selected despite carrying a hip injury through the Lord's Test.

While the likes of Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird will all be pushing for recalls and bowling allrounder James Faulkner straining for a Test debut, Lyon has the chance to regain his Test place after being treated rather brusquely by the selectors for the second tour in succession. In India Lyon was dropped following the first Test in Chennai despite claiming four wickets at some cost, and rebounded with career-best figures in the fourth Test of the series.

Yet he again found himself surplus to requirements at the start of the Investec Ashes, as the left-arm spin of 19-year-old Agar was preferred. While Agar made himself an instant hero by stroking his way to a memorable 98 from No. 11 at Trent Bridge, his understandable struggles to make an impact as a fledgling spin bowler suggest that Lyon will again be called upon as the fall-back option.

Lyon took his demotion for Agar with remarkable grace and was among the most excited figures on the Nottingham balcony when his spin rival played his incredible innings. But he admitted it had been hard to take, particularly as he had started the tour in fine wicket-taking form.

"It's not easy to cop when you're playing Test match cricket," Lyon said. "To be left out of the Australian team for an Ashes Test match is not that easy to take but that comes down to the personality of the person. I believe you still have to give for the team.

"I'm just trying to put the ball into the same spot and trying to get some good drop and bounce. I'm really happy with the way they're coming out, actually. Best I've bowled in a long time. I believe my best ball can get the best batters in the world out. The thing is that I have to keep doing that over and over and over."

At Lord's, Lyon said he sat thinking about how he would bowl at England's batsmen while mixing the drinks with his fellow reserve Starc, who would also prove a useful ally for the offspinner should both play at Old Trafford due to the footmarks he can create outside off stump.

"I've been sitting there with Mitch Starc just mixing the hydrolyte just talking about it how we'd go about it if we were out there," Lyon said. "I'm thinking about that every cricket game, definitely. I'm definitely ready. I'll have to come out at Hove and bowl well and enjoy it firstly and really get this momentum swinging around for Australia."

Turner, who will make his first-class debut, has been playing for Chichester Priory Park as part of the development programme run by Cricket Australia and Hampshire. He has taken 18 wickets at an average of 40.78 for the Sussex Premier League club this season.

Australians to play Sussex: Ed Cowan (capt), Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade (wkt), James Faulkner, Ashton Agar, Ashton Turner, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird. 12th man: Travis Head.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (July 26, 2013, 7:50 GMT)

In a team that is desperate for stability Lyon's treatment by selectors is damaging and bizarre in equal measure. His average for a spinner of his age is quite good and would be better if Wade did his job right. Lyon is not going to be a history making spinner but until that player turns up, unless he is injured or completely loses form, Lyon should be our first pick spinner for each test. Lets put it this way, if our batters were as accomplished at batting as Lyon is at spin bowling we would be looking at a much stronger test side at the monent.

Posted by ABHI-123 on (July 26, 2013, 6:29 GMT)

Its funny how a team like Australia with all their fast bowling talent don't seem to know what to do with their spin bowling option. Shane Warne was a legend and you do not replace legends.. India had Kumble going out and took Harbhajan's career with him. But we have persisted with Ashwin who has had a few bad series but its important you identify your strong players. I am OK with a green horn fast bowler but you need years of bowling to fine tune the art of spin bowling. Give agar all the first class exposure he needs then he may be a good bet to play Test cricket. You will kill his class if Aussies keep on persisting with Agar so early and might damage his confidence if he keeps on going without wicket for few more tests, Lyon on the other hand is competent and should get a longer run.. and why have they not given even a match to Steven o'keefe?

Posted by   on (July 26, 2013, 4:39 GMT)

@SirViv1973 and @Mikey Camporese - Right now Aus needs players who can bat out 30-40 overs at the top and get a decent 70 odd. Most of the current crop is coming out of T20 and either will not hang around or cannot handle the swing or pace. Katich can, Wade can, Smith can't. Clarke has loads of "i cant work with him" with many people - Watson, SK, Warner. He has to grin and swallow his pride. 5-0 drubbing is bad for the world of cricket, after coming off a 4-0 drubbing in India. On the bowling side, Faulkner is good, he swings well, that is great for English cricket. Pattinson is not 150+ and is single track. His injury might just be a blessing in disguise. But please need a good spinner. Lyon's the best in the side, but it is chalk and cheese between him and Swann.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2013, 23:40 GMT)

Watson(last chance), Rogers, Khawaja, Warner, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Siddle, Harris, Lyon, Bird 12th man Faulkner. If we drop Watson Faulker must come in to strengthen the batting in the tail and provide an allrounder. Cowan could open with Rogers and both be the snails to start the innings and take the shine of the ball for Warner to take the attack up....

Posted by Dmtc on (July 25, 2013, 23:17 GMT)

With Watson rested from the tour match one can only assume he has a sore left leg from all of the LBW dismissals

Posted by heathrf1974 on (July 25, 2013, 22:43 GMT)

@Sailesh Karki Totally agree. You don't pick bit type players for test cricket, you pick specialists. Including wicket keepers. You don't pick the best batting wicket keeper, you pick the best at keeping wickets. The difference could be two or three wickets a match.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (July 25, 2013, 22:40 GMT)

My team for the 3rd test is Watson, Hughes, Warner, Khawaja, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Siddle, Harris, Lyon, Agar/Bird. Agar or Bird depending on the Ol Trafford wicket. Lyon is Australia's best spinner and should be in side in series with these wickets. He averaged 37 against India in the whitewash which is actually better than Warne's carrer average against India. I'm not saying Lyon is better than Warne, far from it, but he has been treated very poorly by the selectors and he is one player the selectors should stick with. He's only 25 years old. Other spinners such as Fawad and Agar should partner Lyon when they play on wickets with turners.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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