He’s poised to become Australia’s most successful Test off-spinner but doubts still remain over Nathan Lyon’s match-winning ability.
The emphatic first Test victory over the West Indies in Dominica was a triumph to celebrate but one that continues to raise questions over Lyon’s second innings impact.
The 27-year-old finished with 2-67 in the second innings on what will probably be the most spin-friendly wicket he’s likely to encounter in either of Australia’s two Tests in the Caribbean or the subsequent Ashes campaign.
It’s a trend that has dogged Lyon throughout his 40 Test career.
Lyon’s match-winning turn in last summer’s first Test against India in Adelaide, where he picked up seven second-innings wickets and 12 for the match, sticks out like a sore thumb when you assess his second-innings performances.
On the road Lyon’s numbers make for even less-pleasant reading.
In 18 Tests outside Australia, Lyon has claimed just 16 second-innings wickets at 43.43, well below his career Test average of 35.49.
He’s never taken more than three wickets and on eight occasions has failed to take a single wicket in the second innings.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann criticised Lyon’s second-innings displays before last year’s series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
He said then that Lyon “hasn’t delivered as he would have liked or we would like”.
Adelaide may have changed that, but a mixed review of Lyon’s second-innings display in Dominica indicates Lehmann is still pushing his spinner to deliver more often when the game is on the line.
“Good at the back end,” Lehmann said of Lyon’s first Test display.
“I thought he was a little bit patchy at the start but he was good at the back end, which was pleasing.”
Lyon and the rest of the Australia team head to Jamaica on Monday to begin their preparations for the second Test against the Windies at Sabina Park starting on Thursday.
NATHAN LYON’S SECOND INNINGS BOWLING RECORD AWAY FROM HOME
Wickets: 16 at 43.43 (Career: 141 at 35.49)
Strike rate: 87.1 (Career: 67.6)
Best bowling: 3-55 (Career: 7-94)
Five-wicket hauls: 0 (Career: 7)