'Big Four' or not, Lyon will play: Boof | cricket.com.au

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'Big Four' or not, Lyon will play: Boof

Spin wizard confirmed as a certain starter for the first Ashes Test by head coach

The fast-bowling pecking order for the upcoming Magellan Ashes remains unclear but coach Darren Lehmann says whatever combination of quicks Australia's selectors go for in the series opener, Nathan Lyon will accompany them.

While hype around the 'Big Four' of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson has largely ignored the role Lyon will play this summer, the off-spinner was the star act of Australia's Qantas Tour of Bangladesh.

Re-live Lyon's record-breaking tour

Lyon grabbed a staggering 22 wickets in two Tests (one scalp off the all-time record for two-match series) and 13 in Australia's seven-wicket victory in Chittagong to cement his status as a leader in the current Test side.

"He’s really grown," Lehmann said of the 29-year-old.

"We changed the set-up of the side 12 months ago and we’ve had a lot of young guys come in the group. 

"He’s had to take a next step as a leader so really pleased with the way he’s gone about that. "

Cummins also advanced his cause for an Ashes berth with gut-busting efforts in punishing tropical heat, shouldering the load as Australia's sole quick for the majority of the series after Hazlewood was struck down with a side strain during the first Test.

And while Australia have indicated they're open to playing all members of the Big Four in the one side, Lehmann confirmed Lyon would not be squeezed out of the XI if that mouth-watering scenario came to fruition.

"Nathan is going to play. There’s no doubt about that," he said. 

"At the end of the day we just have to see how it all pans out. With injuries, the bowling stocks, how they all come back and what the wicket is like. 

"That’s still a long, long way away. We’ll just look at the conditions in Brisbane in two months' time when we get there and work out what we do."

The combined batting ability of Starc, Cummins and Pattinson has made the prospect of the Big Four for the Ashes a very real one.

Starc has nine half-centuries and a Test 99 to his name, Pattinson is averaging a tick over 40 in first-class cricket this year while Cummins batted as high as six for his KFC Big Bash League side Sydney Thunder last summer.

"I guess it’s nice that all the fast bowlers – probably take Josh out of it – Starc, Cummins and Pattinson all bat pretty well," Test captain Steve Smith said last month.

"So I won’t say that we’ll do it but there’s a possibility that it could certainly happen, that you could play all four and Nathan Lyon.

"(That) probably leaves the batting a little bit light, but those guys do hold the bat pretty well. It’s something to certainly think about."

With Hazlewood, Starc and Pattinson all recovering from injury, it leaves Cummins as the only fit member of the quartet two months out from the first Test at the Gabba.

If the injured trio make full recoveries for the first Test against England as expected, selectors look set for a major dilemma.

Assuming the panel decide to stick with convention by picking three quicks and Lyon, it would appear Cummins and Pattinson would be jostling for the final seam-bowling spot alongside pace leaders Starc and Hazlewood.

Both have battled injuries in recent years but Cummins looks to be bowling as quick and as accurately as ever, while Pattinson has collected 56 wickets at 14.35 for Victoria and Nottinghamshire since returning from injury last summer.

Cummins surprised by own pace: Smith

Cummins' incumbency and standout efforts on the subcontinent may well be a deciding factor, with Lehmann praising the right-armer's performances in Bangladesh.

"He was exciting, wasn’t he?" Lehmann said. "And that’s what you get from Patty. 

"So it's pleasing he’s put some Test matches together now and hopefully he can do that in the summer for us. He’s got some raw pace and he hits the bat a lot harder than you think, so pleased for him.

"I don’t think we’ve done it for however long with one quick. He did a great job. 

"From our point of view just pleased he got through."