Lyon king leads Aussies to series triumph
In a galaxy not that far away, Australian cricket was unsettled, unseemly and in trouble.
On an Adelaide Oval bathed in lights, the 11 players who started the series against Pakistan completed it with a second straight Test win.
The victory sees Australia comfortably in second place behind India on the recently introduced Test Championship Table that will determine who will play off for the title at Lord’s in London on June 21.
Two innings victories over a weakened Pakistan may not be the best indicator of the strength of the local side, but the signs are positive. The 11 is settled for the first time in two years and it is hard to see how any changes will be made before the three-Test series against New Zealand starting in Perth on December 12.
Concerns about David Warner’s form after a miserable Ashes are a distant memory. The opener who averaged nine in England has made 776 and been dismissed twice this summer. His record-breaking 335 not out in this match was confirmation he is back to his destructive best.
Warner was named man of the match and the series after Australia won by an innings and 48 runs on the fourth day.
It has been a rough few years for the batsman, who was suspended for 12 months for his role in the South African ball-tampering scandal.
“Obviously I had a bit of time out of the game to reflect on a lot of things,” Warner said after the victory on Monday night, “and one thing for me was to get back on the horse and train as hard as I could to make sure that I keep pushing for the next couple of years. Now that I am back here —
I have always enjoyed it (but) I am enjoying it even more, and I am even hungrier than ever.”
The selectors rotated five bowlers and an allrounder through the five Tests against England but will be loathe to tinker with the trio of seamers who helped bowl out Pakistan in both matches of this series. Pat Cummins has 51 wickets for the calendar year, well ahead of the second-best bowler in the world, Stuart Broad, with 48. He, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood would have to be the best seam attack in the world.
Nathan Lyon had been a little off for a few Tests but bounced back yesterday when the pink ball went soft and made the most of the day time conditions.
Lyon’s 5-69 was his first fivewicket haul since the first match of the Ashes.
Captain Tim Paine lauded the “professional” effort of his side, which completed just its second series win since he took over as captain in March 2018. He said, however, that some of the fielding on the third day could have been better and that it had hurt Lyon.
The 31-year-old had two catches spilled and a stumping missed in the second innings.
“Our bowlers were clinical in both Test matches to create the chances they did,” he said.
A five-wicket haul for Nathan Lyon put a tick in one of the last unmarked boxes for Australian cricket as the home side showed just how dominant they can be.
Yesterday’s Adelaide Advertiser, as loyal to the Test match as the locals, printed a double-sided poster celebrating the hero of the Adelaide Oval Test, David Warner. On one side an image of the cricketer celebrating one of the three hundreds of his innings on the other a sepia-toned recreation of the Evening News poster printed when Bradman made his 334 at Headingley: “WARNER BATS AND BATS AND BATS”.
The resuscitation of Warner’s Test career after a near-death experience in the Ashes is complete. He was named both man of the match after this dominant innings and 48-run win at Adelaide Oval and man of the series.
Lazarus has not only arisen from the dead, he’s breaking records at the Jerusalem games. The resurrection of the former vice-captain’s reputation awaits confirmation.
“I am very happy we didn’t have to bat again,” he said. “The legs are OK. You know we practised for that. I was very tired last night.
“I actually fell asleep on the couch. That happens, but all-in-all it was a great team performance and obviously winning by an innings two games in a row doesn’t really happen too often and an exceptional effort by the boys.”
Warner is looking forward to the New Zealand series, which starts with a day-night Test at Perth Stadium on Thursday week. “We know every time they come across here it is always a good contest and a good battle,” he said.
The selection panel is set to announce a squad for the three-Test series against New Zealand some time on Tuesday. It is hard to remember a time this side of the early 2000s when places were so certain. The XI that played in Brisbane and Adelaide will be the XI that plays in Perth on December 12 if they remain fit.
Australian cricket set out to achieve a few things before this series but the results, like Warner’s 335no, have exceeded expectation.
Winning against Pakistan was never a given, but losing could not have been contemplated.
Warner is back and almost unbearably chirpy after innings of 154 and 335no. The pairing of he and Joe Burns was so successful in Brisbane that Justin Langer suggested Marnus Labuschagne may like to drop down the order.
Labuschagne dismissed the idea out of hand. He’d been waiting for a long time to bring the form he found in England in May and wasn’t going to wait a minute longer. He then peeled off 185 to snare the man of the match award and continued in that vein in Adelaide with 162 scored as part of a 361 partnership with Warner.
Burns was dismissed cheaply in the City of Churches, but such things happen to openers. He is not going anywhere just yet. He is especially not going anywhere when the only genuine threat to him, Cameron Bancroft, keeps coming up short.
Bancroft, who is part of the 14man squad, has been caught in some variation of a leg trap in five out of six innings. Early in the sequence Langer sympathised with his bad luck, but by now the conclusion can only be that it is bad batting.
Will Pucovski, who would have been in the squad instead of Bancroft had he not left the Australia A game for mental health reasons, could possibly be included for the second half of the Test summer.
The highly fancied young batsman made 82 on return for Victoria in the game that finished in a draw on Monday and has the chance to play in next week’s game against WA at the MCG.
The leading wicket-taker in cricket this year, Pat Cummins, and his buddy from Bendameer, Josh Hazlewood aren’t going anywhere and any questions about Mitchell Starc have been answered.
Lyon was late to the party and suffered from a difficult back half of the Ashes due to a finger injury, but he arrived yesterday with critical wickets and would have had a few more had Marnus Labuschagne and Tim Paine not let him down.
The pink ball, so lethal at night and so tame during the day, allowed Pakistan to benefit for the second day running on Monday. Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq both scored half centuries against a ball that was soft and unresponsive.
Spinner Nathan Lyon appeals for the wicket of Yasir Shah on his way to a five-wicket haul in the second Test against Pakistan in Adelaide
Matthew Wade hangs on to a finger-tip catch
Australian Nathan Lyon is congratulated by his teammates after taking a wicket on day four of the second Test against Pakistan at Adelaide Oval yesterday