Lyon ready to 'bowl ugly' for Ashes glory
HE has just set a new national record for the most Test wickets taken in a two-match series but Nathan Lyon knows there will always be calls from outside the team for Australia to ditch the spinner and play four quicks at the Gabba Test.
But having put on a spin-bowling clinic in Bangladesh and playing as well as he ever has, he's not worried.
"I've played seven Test matches there (at the Gabba) already and I think every Test match (stories say play) four quicks," Lyon told reporters on Cockatoo Island at an event celebrating a 25-year association between Milo and grassroots cricket.
"I'm comfortable with where I'm sitting at the moment and I'm really confident, especially coming off the back of Bangladesh personally."
In the form of his life, Lyon sits a career-best eighth on the ICC's bowling rankings and has taken more Test wickets than any bowler in 2017 (46 at 21.95), but he knows better than to take his hold on his baggy green for granted.
"As soon as you start getting too comfortable, it gets taken away from you," he said.
"At the moment I'm probably getting hunted down by all the other spinners so I need to go out there and keep improving.
"We've got three Shield games before the first Ashes Test so there's no spot certain but I'm very confident where I'm sitting right now that we're going to have a massive Ashes campaign."
Under serious pressure to hold on to his spot at the back end of last year, Lyon has taken his game to a whole new level this year.
The pick of Australia's bowlers in the Border-Gavaskar series (19 at 25.62) the 29-year-old dominated the tour of Bangladesh (22 at 14.31), breaking J.J. Ferris' 1887 record for the most wickets (18) taken by an Australian in a two-Test series. It's a marked improvement from the 2016 tour of Sri Lanka, where he was out-bowled by left-arm tweaker Rangana Herath, a transformation he puts down to "bowling ugly".
"In the past I've been stuck falling in love with the stock off-break. I'm a traditional off-spinner, I go up the back of the ball. For me bowling ugly, that's my term, it's about bowling around myself, bowling under the ball, different type of grips, different type of things.
"If I have to (bowl ugly in Australia) I'll go there. I'm willing to adapt and it's just about adapting to the conditions ASAP and really enjoying the challenge that the Poms are going to bring out to us."
This summer's series will be Lyon's fourth Ashes campaign. He considers himself privileged to have played in each of the past three but understandably there's one he looks back on most fondly - the 5-0 whitewash of 2013-14 on home soil. Four years later and he's chasing that same high.
"I've been very fortunate to play one home one where we absolutely pantsed them and had a very great summer in winning 5-0. I know what the feeling amongst the Australian public and Australian cricket was then and personally I want to re-create that again with the squad now.
"We have a really good squad, we've got a young squad. The sky's the limit for us."