Lyon knows the spin ahead of Gabba opener

Australia's record-breaking offie well aware there will be calls for four quicks in Brisbane, but confident in ever-improving skills-set

Nathan Lyon expects the annual call for Australia to play four pacemen at the Gabba to continue despite coming off a career-best series in Bangladesh.

The oft-maligned off-spinner claimed 22 wickets in Bangladesh, but said there would still be speculation selectors would field four quicks at the Ashes series opener in Brisbane beginning on November 23, particularly with the excitement around the purported 'Big Four' in Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson. 

"I've played (six) Test matches there already and every Test match it is said 'four quicks'," Lyon said in Sydney on Friday morning.

Australia's most prolific off-spinner said the group of tweakers around the country were also keeping him on his toes; left-arm finger spinner Ashton Agar returned to the Test side for the two matches against Bangladesh, while fellow left-armers Steve O'Keefe and Jon Holland and young leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson wait in the wings.

"At the moment I'm probably getting hunted down by all the other spinners so I need to go out there and keep improving," Lyon said. "There's no spot for certain."

Re-live Lyon's record-breaking tour

Lyon can at least rest safely in the knowledge that one selector has guaranteed his selection for Brisbane, with coach Darren Lehmann delighted with his off-spinner's progress in Bangladesh. 

"Nathan is going to play (the first Ashes Test). There’s no doubt about that," Lehmann said.  "At the end of the day we just have to see how it all pans out (in terms of fast bowlers). With injuries, the bowling stocks, how they all come back and what the wicket is like."

The No.8 ranked Test match bowler said he was confident about the summer ahead after his success in Bangladesh, where he said his willingness to bowl with variations in his grip and technique benefited him.

"I'm very happy with where I'm sitting leading into the Ashes," the 29-year-old said. "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 … If I have to (bowl ugly in the Ashes), 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."

It's a vastly different outlook from 12 months ago when Lyon's position in the side was regularly called into question after he struggled in the 3-0 series loss in Sri Lanka.

Lyon's haul across the two matches in Bangladesh took him to 269 Test wickets, pushing ahead of the great Richie Benaud as Australia's second highest spin-bowling wicket-taker behind Shane Warne (708), while he was also just one wicket shy of Sri Lankan tweaker Rangana Herath's record of 23 wickets for a two-Test series. 

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

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

ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

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

T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

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

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

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

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

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21