Australia don’t need two specialist spinners in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide, according to Nathan Lyon, who says he’s learnt plenty since last year’s drawn Test with South Africa at the same ground.
Against the Proteas, Australia had a series-clinching Test victory in their grips – requiring just six wickets on the fifth day at Adelaide Oval.
The scene was tailor-made for offspinner Lyon to be the hero on his former home ground, but instead South African middle-order batsman Faf du Plessis earned the plaudits as he batted for seven-and-a-half hours, accumulating 110 not out, to force a draw.
The result raised questions about Lyon’s match-winning ability – but he says he’s learnt and grown from that disappointment.
“I’ve learnt a fair amount playing a few Test matches down there,” said Lyon on Tuesday.
“I’ve learnt a fair amount about my game and what I need to do and what I need to do to get better.
“Fingers crossed there’s a little bit more spin down there and we’ll see how we go.”
And, striking a blow to the hopes of legspinner Fawad Ahmed and rising offspinner Ashton Agar, Lyon said he’s ready to go it alone – almost.
“Steve Smith, Michael Clarke – they’re pretty capable of bowling a few overs,” Lyon said on Thursday.
“In saying that if the bowling group does our job they (part-time spinners) won’t have to bowl.
“I’m more than happy to take on the responsibility of being the No.1 spinner and hopefully get a few overs under my belt.”
Lyon, who sparked English collapses in both innings of the 381-run first Test win at the Gabba, has been dropped on two occasions this year.
Firstly in spin-friendly India he was overlooked for Xavier Doherty, then little-known Ashton Agar was picked for the opening two Ashes Tests in England.
And the pressure will again be on for the 26-year-old to deliver at Adelaide, where he used to be the groundskeeper and has taken 10 wickets at 25 in two Tests.
But it’s a challenge he is embracing.
“I feel confident in my own skill-set to get the job done,” he said.
Lyon said Australia can’t afford to back down from their aggressive tactics because they know England won’t roll over.
“It’s England and it’s a Test match, they’re going to bounce back, we know that,” he said on Thursday.
“Test match cricket is the hardest format going around.
“We’re not expecting anyone to roll over. We know the quality of the England cricket side.
“We’re going to have to stand up … and start that fight again.
“…That’s the way Australia play their best cricket.
“We know where the line is and we don’t step over it.
“We’re going to continue to play aggressive, hard cricket.”