Cummins backs in Lyon's aim for four more years

Aussie skipper sees no reason why star off-spinner can’t play into his 40s, after another match-winning performance

Kiwis crumble on fourth morning to hand Aussies 1-0 series lead

Pat Cummins has backed his record-breaking off-spinner Nathan Lyon to continue his decorated Australia career for a further four years, and added he'll know it's time to stand down from the captaincy when his bowling ace decides to call it quits.

Lyon was the destroyer in his team's 172-run demolition of New Zealand that was wrapped up before lunch on day four at Basin Reserve today, claiming 6-65 in the Black Caps' second innings to finish with 10-108 for the match.

The 36-year-old has previously indicated his wish to play on at Test level until 2027, with a view to being part of an Ashes-winning tour to the UK after his campaign last year was cut prematurely short due to a serious calf injury.

It would mean Australia's most successful finger spinner, who now sits seventh on the all-time Test wicket-taking ladder with 527 and within striking distance of sixth-placed Glenn McGrath (563), would be on the cusp of turning 40 when the next Ashes sojourn ends.

He would therefore become the first Australia men's player to take the Test field into their fourth decade since former leg-spinner Bob Holland in 1986, but Cummins hold no doubts his long-time New South Wales and national teammate is capable of going the distance.

"The only barrier really is his body, so if he looks after his body and makes sure he's right for 10 Test matches a year, or whatever it is, I'd absolutely love him to play until 2027," Cummins said in the wake of Australia's Test win.

"And I don't think there's much that's going to get in his way.

"I've already told him the day he retires I'm definitely giving up the captaincy because it makes my life a helluva lot easier."

Following the second Test of the current Qantas Tour of NZ, starting at Christchurch's Hagley Oval on Friday, Lyon's next Test commitment won't come until the start of India's five-match series in Australia next summer.

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However, he will continue playing throughout the winter as he turns out in both red and white-ball formats for Lancashire in the UK county competition.

It is understood he will leave for Manchester at the start of next month, and is expected to continue playing for Lancashire until October although it's possible Cricket Australia will prefer to see him return home before then.

Lyon's second innings rout of NZ, which effectively decided the game's outcome when he claimed the key wickets of Rachin Ravindra, Tom Blundell and Glenn Phillips in the space of eight deliveries while not conceding a run, represented his best Test haul since recovering from the calf injury.

And not only did he collect his 24th Test five-for and fifth bag of 10 wickets in a match, he became the first player in the game's history to achieve those two feats while also top scoring with the bat in his now familiar role as night watch.

Only McGrath, England pair Stuart Broad (604) and Jimmy Anderson (currently 698), leg-spinners Anil Kumble (India – 619) and Shane Warne (Australia – 708) and fellow offie Muthiah Muralidaran (Sri Lanka – 800) remain ahead of him on the Test wicket-taking list.

A key to Lyon's remarkable success has been his capacity to routinely land his off-spinning stock ball precisely where aimed, across countless overs during the course of an innings, which Cummins admits makes it simpler to set fields and execute plans.

"It's a captain's dream really," Cummins said today.

"There's a real sense of calm out there when you know you've got someone that good on a wicket that's giving him a little bit of help.

"It's fun really, you can get creative with some of the field placings knowing he's going to land it exactly where you want it to.

"I thought he was brilliant over the last couple of days, bouncing through a few different plans but it always just felt like he was in control.

"And it felt like we had plan B, C and D we could go to as well, but never really felt like we had to."

Lyon's impact on the result was brought into even sharper focus by NZ's decision not to play their specialist left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner on a pitch that does not traditionally take turn, and instead relied on part-timers Ravindra and Phillips.

And while Phillips was his team's best performer with a maiden first-class five-wicket haul on day three, he was not used at all in Australia's first innings as they posted a decisive 383 after being reduced to 6-176 late on day one.

By contrast, from the moment he first took the ball after tea on day two and snared four NZ wickets in the final session, Lyon recognised the Basin uncharacteristically offered a surface aiding spin and would have taken the new ball in the Black Caps' second innings had Cummins agreed.

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"As soon as Starcy (Mitchell Starc) and Josh (Hazlewood, his opening partner) had bowled their first overs at each end, he (Lyon) was coming up and asking me when he's coming on," Cummins said today.

"That's great, I feel lucky that just about every bowler in our team is like that at the moment.

"Everyone's keen to be the matchwinner.

"But with a bit of spin and a bit of bounce, good luck taking the ball out of Gaz's (Lyon's) hand."

Qantas Tour of New Zealand

Watch all the action from the NZvAUS Tour live and exclusive on Foxtel and Kayo Sports. Click Here to subscribe

February 29 – March 4: Australia win the first Test by 172 runs

March 8-12: Second Test, Christchurch, 9am AEDT

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc

New Zealand Test squad: Tim Southee (c), Tom Blundell (wk), Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Will O'Rourke, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young.