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'No doubt there will be frustration' - Lyon after Australia collapse against Phillips

Carey's form a cause for concern for the visitors as his batting average slips under 30

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
02-Mar-2024
The last time Nathan Lyon top-scored in a Test innings Australia was bowled out for 47 and lost the match.
Lyon said he would not have any cheeky words with Australia's batters after top-scoring with 41 as the visitors collapsed for 164 at the Basin Reserve and bring New Zealand back into the game from a vulnerable position.
"No. That's the second time I've done it in my career," Lyon said. "And let's hope it's the last."
But there is a case to be made that some soul-searching should be done among Australia's batting group. It is not the style of this team to have stern words with each other, or even introspect. They are not the anti-negativity evangelists that England's Bazballers are, but they are relatively pragmatic about their failures.
Lyon said that some of the batters would be disappointed with their dismissals in the second innings as Glenn Phillips, with a total of 11 Test scalps and 51 first-class scalps from 53 matches prior to this game, took five of Australia's top seven to become the first New Zealand spinner to take a five-wicket haul at home in 16 years.
"I dare say so," Lyon said. "But I'll never criticise our batters the way they go about it because they've been exceptional for a number of years now. But then you've got to give credit to the bowlers and this is my big thing. Bowlers are actually there to bowl good balls. And it's not always the batters' fault getting out and bowlers are allowed to come up with plans and execute and take wickets. No doubt there will be some frustration in there."
Phillips did bowl some good balls. The one to remove Cameron Green was a beauty. But his four other scalps, while well-planned and well-executed, required Australia's batters to get sucked into the obvious traps that were laid out.
And one after the other, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh and Alex Carey did just that.
The first three have plenty of credits in the bank. But Carey is a cause for concern. His form with the bat is more alarming than the raw numbers. His Test batting average has slipped under 30 but it is the manner of his dismissals and the lack of a clear method to his batting that would be concerning Australia's selectors the most.
It was the second time in the match that he holed out to cover, and it was made worse that he nearly holed out twice before his dismissal to the two catching covers in place.
He had scored half-centuries in his most recent first-class match for South Australia and in his last Test for Australia. But even those two innings ended in brainless fashion. Against Queensland, having cruised to 90, he premeditated to lap scoop Mark Steketee from way wide of the off stump and was caught behind.
In his last Test, after making an excellent momentum-shifting 65, he holed out to deep square leg, falling straight into a clear trap that was set for him.
It is not the first time Australia's thoughtless batting has left them vulnerable this summer. They remain in a strong position but much rests on the shoulders of Lyon and the bowlers.
"If we do our job and put pressure on the guys for long periods of time, I'm confident that the bowlers in that change room will create more than seven chances," Lyon said.
He was a threat again in the evening session, picking up Tom Latham and Kane Williamson. He revealed that he felt like he had found a vulnerability in Williamson's game by getting him caught at leg slip but did not elaborate on exactly what it was.
"My biggest weapon and it's no secret is my bounce all around the world," Lyon said. "So I'll continue to try and put some over spin on the ball and try and get the bounce and try and hit the stickers on the bat and challenge the guys' defence on the crease. I've got a fair understanding of what their plan is going to be. So it's a good opportunity for me tonight to reset some goals and reset some plans and we'll go from there."

Alex Malcolm is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo