Nathan Lyon joins elite company as Australia’s bowlers pile Ashes pressure on England


And there were times when the metronomic, top of off stump, nagging accuracy of Josh Hazlewood put you in mind of Glenn McGrath.

Yet if both fast bowlers enjoyed three-wicket hauls and both can be rightly proud of their day’s toil once again underpinning their work was a bowler who at some stage during this Test will become the third greatest Australian of all time.

With the final hit of England’s innings Jonny Bairstow sent the ball arcing high towards the Grand Stand where it was pouched by a watchful Usman Khawaja.

It gave Nathan Lyon a 355th Test wicket bringing him level with Dennis Lillee and behind only Shane Warne and McGrath.

Not a bad effort for a man who earned a living tending to the turf at the Adelaide Oval as he tried to make it in grade cricket in 2006 and who was criticised early in his Test career as not really a wicket taker.

Lyon has become the glue that successive Australia captains have come to rely on and yesterday, despite England’s best efforts to unsettle and knock him out of the attack, his mastery of his art, saw them dominate England with the ball.

Lyon emerged with 3-68 from 19.1 overs removing Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Bairstow, but it was as much his economy, going at under four an over which allowed captain Tim Paine to rotate the remaining three bowlers expertly.

Hazlewood’s early strikes to remove Jason Roy and Joe Root had made best use of some early swing and lateral movement. But with Rory Burns and Joe Denly holding firm to and through lunch, Australia changed their approach.

It required a huge effort on the part of Cummins who was tasked with hammering some bounce and aggression out of a pitch which was not exactly the WACA or Wanderers.

But if he wakes this morning with a few aches and pains for his 21 over shift (yielding 3-61) English flanks and minds will be wearing bruises, too, from a testing day at the coalface.

Rory Burns and Joe Denly were both hit, the former twice in one over before he fending another rising ball to short leg. 

Chris Woakes took a vicious blow on the back of his helmet and Jofra Archer was softened up before being removed with a rising delivery.

Yet if the world’s No 1 Test bowler was a singularly impressive attack weapon, he was allowed to groove his approach by the control offered by Hazlewood and Lyon. 

The off-spinner is key to the hunting efficiency of a pack which Australia are rotating cleverly as this series progresses – Mitchell Starc has yet to be unleashed on the Ashes – and one which appears to have all bases covered. 

Time will tell whether England’s total will prove competitive or under par but whatever the context established as Friday progresses, Australia’s bowlers have put them in a sound position.


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