By Rob Barnett
Nathan Lyon’s first Test five-for in Australia brought the hosts back into the Boxing Day Test, but the off-spinner said his heroics were made possible by a pace attack that he believes is “probably up there with the best in the world”.
Lyon’s 5-50, his fourth format five-wicket haul, kept England’s second innings to 179, leaving 231 needed for victory of which 30 has been knocked off without loss by Chris Rogers and David Warner.
Lyon undid the good work of Alastair Cook’s 51, with 49 from Kevin Pietersen the tourists’ only other score of note.
The modest 26-year-old is aware his success was thanks in part to a threatening and miserly fast-bowling quartet.
“Our pace attack has been fantastic. It’s probably up there with the best in the world right now,” he said.
“I’m lucky enough to be involved with them. If we keep bowling well in partnerships, who knows where it may take us?”
Lyon, who contributed 18 not out to a last-wicket stand of 40 that frustrated England this morning, added: “I’m not sure if it’s sunk in just yet with the emotion of the whole Ashes Test match, it’s still riding pretty high.
“I’m pretty proud of the achievement today but I don’t get the results I got today without the fellow members in my team there.
“To have Mitch Johnson, Ryan Harris, Pete Siddle and Shane Watson bowling at the other end, it helps me out massively so thanks to them.”
Lyon’s haul began with Ian Bell chipping to mid-off for a golden duck and continued after tea when Ben Stokes fell likewise.
He then bowled Tim Bresnan and had Stuart Broad held at slip in the same over before Pietersen holed out to long-off.
Broad’s wicket was Lyon’s 100th in Tests, a milestone he did not see coming when in 2011 he played the first of his 29 Tests.
“It’s fantastic. It’s amazing to be honest,” he enthused.
“It seemed like a long way away when I first started, but I’m lucky enough to get there and no-one can take them off me I guess.”
Lyon admitted that Australia did not anticipate undermining England’s strong position, which saw them lead by 91 overnight with one first-innings scalp to go.
That meant taking the fourth Ashes Test’s wicket-tally to 30 in three days, but Lyon claims the playing surface is not at fault.
“To turn the game around, we didn’t expect that to be honest,” he said. “But we knew that if we bowled in partnerships and keep improving as a bowling unit we knew that we could possibly crack open that game.”
He added: “That’s a great Test-match pitch. There’s no point blaming the pitch for what’s happened in the game.
“It looks as the game’s played out the new ball is the easiest to score [against] and it’s got harder and harder with the old ball.
“Come tomorrow, Australia has to really be patient with our batting and it’s going to be a massive challenge; there’s no doubt about that.”