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Vaughan tells England to risk it, or rue it

Down 2-0 in the series, former England skipper Michael Vaughan says the tourists must attack Nathan Lyon

Test great Michael Vaughan has urged England's batsmen to roll the dice and attack master Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon or face another defeat in the third Magellan Ashes series.

Having taken 11 wickets in the first two Tests – 10 of which have been left-handed – Lyon is the surprise packet of the Ashes, according to Vaughan.

England captain Joe Root said his side have formulated a game plan to counter the confident off-spinner, but Vaughan has implored the tourists’ batsmen to take a risk against Lyon.

"As much as we keep talking about the Australia pace attack, and they are a tremendous trio, Nathan Lyon has been the surprise of the series," Vaughan said on Monday.


"Every time he’s had the ball in his hand I don’t remember him not having a spell where you thought 'Wait a minute he’s holding an end. Wait a minute he’s getting wickets'.

"So, England have to nullify Nathan Lyon. If they can nullify Nathan Lyon and get him out of the attack - they might need the right-handers to do so, take a gamble or two.

"I don’t think the England players have taken enough of a risk against him.

"For instance, when you played against Shane Warne you had to gamble to try to knock him out of the attack or off his length.

"If you allowed him to bowl, he’d have you. I’m not saying Nathan Lyon is in Warnie’s category yet. But he’s doing a similar job, so you have to gamble."

Given Lyon’s potency against England’s left-handers, Vaughan suggests moving wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow to No.6 and dropping allrounder Moeen Ali to No.7 in order to space out the southpaws in the batting order.

Lyon maintains 100 per cent record against Moeen

Vaughan, who captained England to their drought-breaking Ashes series win in 2005, says Root’s team did not have Lyon in their thinking when assembling their squad for the tour Down Under.

"In hindsight, England probably didn’t prepare their line-up for Nathan Lyon," Vaughan said.

"They probably nullified the three quicks and thought 'we all should be able to play Nathan Lyon'.

"If you do the same thing every week in Test match cricket, you’ll get found out. You’ve got to produce different skill every other Test match.

"The left-handers in England’s side will have to do something slightly different.

'Absolutely brilliant from Nathan Lyon ... look at this!'

"We’ll have to see. But I’d like to see them go. There’s nothing worse and ending the series and not having a go. He’s bowling beautifully to the left-handers."

Speaking on match eve in Perth, Root declined to reveal his XI nor the batting order, but says his side will equally take risks and respect Lyon on a WACA Ground pitch that has favoured fast bowling in the past.

"It’s that cat and mouse part of cricket, isn’t it," Root said.

"You want to try and apply pressure as a batsman and get on top when the opportunities arise.

Root backs England to respond to 0-2 Ashes deficit

"Credit to Nathan, he’s made that very difficult for us to do that on surfaces which have offered him good spin from the start when he has come into the attack it has spun.

"We’ve got to be ready for that this week. It’s not traditionally a place that will spin from ball one and especially if we bat first, but it might be that it reacts differently to what we’ve seen previously.

"We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for that as a batting group and we have a clear way of how we want to try and put him under a bit more pressure; if we can and manipulate the strike better and try and rotate things and not get stuck down his end.

"If we manage to do that, hopefully that will free the scoring up and take the pressure away from facing the other guys as well."

Lyon’s development into the world’s leading wicket-taker in 2017 has impressed Vaughan, who says England's own off-spinner Moeen should try to replicate how the Australian has dramatically improved.

Lyon bags four more to continue dream 2017

"I look at Nathan Lyon three or four years ago and he was an average off-spinner," Vaughan said.

"He’s now a high-class off-spinner.

"Moeen Ali is a decent off-spinner. In three or four years’ time, can he be Nathan Lyon?

"What we’re seeing now is it looks to me that Nathan Lyon has gone away, worked his knackers off, he’s got that spirit and energy out in the middle, he’s got body language which is a bit more aggressive.

"I do think Moeen Ali can learn from Nathan Lyon. You can improve, you can get better.

"Nathan Lyon, we don’t see him as often. We had that period where we played Australia for a year in pretty much every Test, it felt like, so we saw a lot of him. The improvement we found this time has been immense.

"You can get better. Moeen Ali should be looking at Nathan Lyon and thinking 'I can do the same'."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21