Thriving Nathan Lyon turns his thoughts to Ashes

Peter Laylor, in The Australian, 19-20 October 2013

-nathan-lyon- Getty Nathan Lyon–Pic by Getty Images

IF selectors are looking for another excuse to drop Nathan Lyon he is giving them none and raising them one as the off-spinner says he wants to play all three forms of the game.  Back playing for his native NSW in the Ryobi Cup, the 25-year-old produced a couple of delightful deliveries during a compelling spell against Queensland on Thursday. First he lured Usman Khawaja from his crease to have him stumped and the following ball ripped one back into Greg Moller, who held the bat above his head as the ball crashed into his stumps. Khawaja admitted later that the Bulls decided Lyon was bowling so well he was best seen off — even on the postage-stamp-size North Sydney Oval.

Lyon fancies himself in the shorter formats. “I am enjoying cricket here, but there is no point hiding it, I want to play all formats for Australia,” he said. “I would like to be in India playing for Australia but right now I am here playing with the NSW Blues and hopefully I can keep performing well and turn around a few results heading for the Ashes,” he said yesterday. “My focus is to win these Ashes back.”

Lyon says he has “fingers crossed” that he will play in Brisbane on November 21, but there is no guarantee for the spinner, who was dropped in India after the first Test and didn’t get a start until the third Test in England. Selectors opted for the untried Ashton Agar in the Ashes in the hope the left-armer would trouble the English right-hand batsmen more than Lyon.

“I just have to keep putting my hand up for selection, that is all I can do. Keep bowling well, keep improving and that’s what I want to do,” Lyon said. “I really want to win these Ashes. I am confident in my own skill set to get the job done. The selectors have to come up with the squad that they think will win the Ashes back and hopefully I am in the mix for that and we’ll take it from there.”

Every Australian spinner has suffered by comparison with Liz Hurley’s fiancee and Lyon suffers again through comparison with England’s offie, Graeme Swann, who was leading wicket taker in the series. “He’s one of the best spin bowlers in the world and I definitely watched him pretty closely, the way he bowled to our batsmen and what he does as a spin bowler,” Lyon admitted. “Every time he got the ball I was glued to the TV or out on the balcony watching. Hopefully I can learn a few things and hopefully after the series I can sit down and have a chat with him.”

Lyon, who has 85 wickets from 25 Test matches and who took nine from three outings in the Ashes, was disappointed Australia lost but not unhappy with his performance. “It’s a big challenge bowling to the likes of Pietersen and Ian Bell in such great form,” he said. “I thrive on challenges and I think I achieved a couple of little goals being able to prove myself against those guys at that level.”

NSW must win its next two games to be any chance of a finals spot in the Ryobi Cup but will be without Doug Bollinger for tomorrow’s match against Victoria at North Sydney Oval after the bowler received a one-match ban for throwing the ball at Bulls debutant Jason Pierson.

The wicketkeeper and opening batsman was not shaken by the experience, going on to score a half-century.

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