Sport Lyon king spins Australia to Ashes comeback victory

Lyon king spins Australia to Ashes comeback victory

Australia celebrates another wicket at the first Ashes Test, with Nathan Lyon claiming six wickets to help seal a win. Photo: Getty
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Nathan Lyon bowled Australia to a famous Ashes triumph, taking six wickets on the final day of the first Test as the tourists claimed a 251-run victory.

The English media talked up ‘Fortress Edgbaston’ in the build-up but it crumbled on the back of Lyon’s turn, bounce and probing line, the off-spinner running riot on a one-sided day five.

Chasing 398 for victory, England never looked likely, capitulating to be bowled out for 146 in less than 53 overs.

Lyon – who took 6-49 and became just the fourth Australian bowler to take 350 Test wickets – shared the last-day scalps with Pat Cummins (4-32), capping a remarkable fightback for a team that were 8-122 in their first innings.

Nathan Lyon bowls on day five of the 1st Ashes Test between England and Australia. Photo: Getty

Australia’s victory was just its fifth in an Ashes Test in England since 2001 and gives Tim Paine’s side a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five match series that they only have to draw to retain cricket’s famous urn.

England has now lost six of its past seven Ashes Tests but while the hosts will be written off by some, it is worth remembering that they played almost all of the series opener without the bowling of spearhead Jimmy Anderson to call on.

Australia would prefer not to rely on Steve Smith so heavily, too, the batsman’s big hundreds in both the first and second innings so crucial to victory.

Smith was deservedly named man of the match but it was Lyon’s time to shine on day five, the spinner acknowledging he was “excited but nervous” before play.

“There was always going to be pressure on the spinner being a day five wicket … my plan was just to come and bowl my stuff … trust and believe in my game,” a typically modest Lyon told Sky Sports.

“We have got a really great bowling squad mentality … all the bowlers bowled extremely well, especially Pat Cummins, I thought he was absolutely exceptional today.”

Smith and Paine were more to the point.

“We know how much of a world-class spinner ‘Gazza’ is and [he] came out and did his thing beautifully today,” said Smith, while Paine simply said the 31-year-old “bowled superbly”.

Lyon has now taken more Test wickets than any other bowler since making his debut against Sri Lanka in 2011, his 352 scalps leading all comers.

It was Cummins who struck first, though, bowling a sharp bouncer that first-innings centurion Rory Burns (11) could only fend to Lyon at point with just six runs added to the overnight score.

Jason Roy and Joe Root both made 28 and combined for a 41-run partnership that falsely suggested England would make Australia work hard for victory.

Root was given out lbw on two occasions but reviewed both decisions successfully, adding further shame to Joel Wilson’s poor Test behind the stumps.

There were 10 decisions successfully reviewed during the Test, with eight coming at Wilson’s end.

Roy was Lyon’s first victim, bowled after charging down the pitch and missing the ball with an ugly swipe across the line.

That wicket triggered a mini-collapse as Joe Denly (11) and Root both fell before lunch, caught at short leg by Bancroft from sharp Lyon deliveries.

The wickets kept falling after the break, too, Jos Buttler (1) bowled by an excellent Cummins delivery before the paceman removed Jonny Bairstow for six when a short ball caught the wristband of the wicketkeeper’s glove and ballooned to Bancroft.

And from 1-60, England were 7-97 when Stokes edged Lyon to Paine.

Australia celebrates victory over England by 251 runs. Photo: Getty

Chris Woakes (37) showed some brief resistance for England but could only watch on as Moeen Ali lost his wicket to Lyon for the ninth time in his last 11 Ashes innings.

That gave Lyon his five-wicket haul and he removed Stuart Broad, caught at first slip, with his very next ball.

And Cummins wrapped things up, Woakes fending into the slip cordon with Smith, fittingly, on hand to take the match-winning catch.

The omens are good for Australia, who last won at Edgbaston in the 2001 Ashes series, one that ended in victory.

The first step towards a repeat has been taken.

The second Test at Lord’s begins on August 14 but a three-day tour match – likely to feature both Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood – against Worcestershire starts on Wednesday.