Lyon prepares for England's bat-and-ball blitz

Australia's off-spinner and lower-order batter has confronted many a scenario in his time in Baggy Green and this time around he is readying himself for all-out England aggression

Those who were closely observing the Australians at the Lord's Nursery nets in recent days might have detected Nathan Lyon preparing for England to come at him with more than merely their now standard 'Bazball' aggression in this week's second Ashes Test.

For while the prolific off-spinner again invited the squad's periphery batters to attack him relentlessly for a prolonged practice period, his preparation with bat in hand also proved instructive as to the type of bowling Australia's lower order expect to be receiving from Wednesday.

Lyon, who is chasing a 500th wicket in what looms as his 100th consecutive Test, defied suggestions from England's self-anointed spokesperson Ollie Robinson that he was one of three number 11s the visitors were fielding in their line-up at Edgbaston, batting for an hour in making 16 not out and combining with Pat Cummins for an unbroken, match-deciding 55-run partnership that edged Australia across the line on the final afternoon.

Robinson's verbal volley came after England had ended the visitors' first innings with a series of short-pitched deliveries which yielded four wickets for the meagre cost of 14 runs.

One of those had been Lyon who, as a compulsive puller of the ball, had been tempted into the shot and, despite connecting sweetly from a short-pitched Robinson offering, managed only to pick out the man at deep square leg.

And so it was that shot that Lyon worked on as he faced down a series of short balls from the rather incongruous source of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, two men far more familiar with the other end of a practice pitch. The pair armed themselves with the now ubiquitous 'wangers' and happily targeted the head and body of their star off-spinner with a mid-pitch barrage.

Watching all this unfold from a safe vantage point behind the nets was Ricky Ponting, a man well-acquainted with bouncers and how best to negotiate them.

Intermittently, Australia's leading Test runs-scorer offered Australia's most prolific wicket-taking off-spinner some words of advice, centring chiefly upon his bat plane and how hard he should be looking to hit the ball.

Having heard the exchanges from the bowler's end, Smith chimed in: "Nobody played the pull better than 'Punter' (Ponting), so no excuses now, 'Garry' (Lyon)."

'They've had a few days off, shadow batting in their rooms'

"I don't overly enjoy batting too much, but I'm trying to get better," Lyon told reporters afterward. "It's been well publicised that I do work with (my brother) behind closed doors at home and it's just about getting in really good positions and trying to play my role for the team.

"Whether that's trying to hang in there and bat long periods of time, or is that trying to take the game on. It's just been about me being really clear on my role and just going out there trying to enjoy it.

"And while I'm not very good at it, I'll try my best and give it a crack."

Where the 35-year-old does not lack self-belief is at the top of his mark, a position from which he has sized up his opponent before sending down what now stands at 31,344 deliveries in Test cricket – a number only surpassed by Shane Warne among Australians.

Through that time Lyon has encountered virtually every scenario imaginable, with England's 'Bazball' exploits the latest and among the most novel. Match figures at Edgbaston of 8-239 suggested he handled the English approach impressively, with his economy rate of 4.32 runs per over roughly in line with Australian expectation of their off-spinner in this series.

In one particular net session before that match he instructed Matthew Renshaw and Josh Inglis to go their hardest at him, and he repeated the dose at Lord's on Monday while adding another bespoke element.

"I had James Peirson come out and try and replicate Joe Root, the way he's batting," Lyon said. "Rooty's obviously batting incredibly well at the moment, the way he's been able to manipulate fields and stuff, so I was asking James to put me under pressure, and I had Matt Renshaw try and hit me for six every ball and try and pull out different shots and all that stuff.

"And for me, it's just about having a really clear mindset when I'm bowling.

"I love it when guys are coming at me. And it's just honestly about trying to solve the problem in front of you as quickly as you can.

"They're going to throw different problems at us. It's exciting, we should be excited by it and we're not going to shy away from that challenge.

"So (the) big mental thing for me is just going out there and enjoying the challenge and making sure my skill set's up to speed."

- with Andrew Ramsey

2023 Qantas Ashes Tour of the UK

First Test: Australia won by two wickets

Second Test: Wednesday June 28-Sunday July 2, Lord’s

Third Test: Thursday July 6-Monday July 10, Headingley

Fourth Test: Wednesday July 19-Sunday July 23, Old Trafford

Fifth Test: Thursday July 27-Monday 31, The Oval

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David Warner

England squad: Ben Stokes (c), Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Matthew Potts, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Josh Tongue, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood