If there was any doubt as to the high standards Australia’s cricketers were holding themselves to on this Ashes tour, a blunt reminder came in the form of Nathan Lyon‘s critique of day one of play at Lord’s following a washout on the Wednesday.
While Lyon was glowing in his praise of Josh Hazlewood‘s return to the team, and also Pat Cummins‘ aggressive use of the bouncer in the afternoon, he indicated that the overall performance was short of expectations despite bowling England out for 258 and peeling 30 of those runs off for the loss of David Warner by the close.
Lyon, who in claiming three wickets of his own drew level with Dennis Lillee on 355 Test wickets for Australia, reckoned that the dropping of three catches ad also allowing England to form a pair of pesky stands between Joe Denly and Rory Burns then Chris Woakes and Johnny Bairstow undid much of Hazlewood’s precision work with the Dukes ball.
“If you look at today I don’t think we’ve had the best day if I’m being brutally honest,” Lyon said. “I think Josh Hazlewood was absolutely exceptional and the spell from Pat Cummins after tea really set the tone for us. For our standards I don’t think we were good enough for long periods of time.
“But in saying that it’s still a good day for Australia, we’ve won the toss, we’ve created more than 10 chances, we haven’t played catch today. We can get better, and that’s exciting but we still were able to bowl England out for 258 on a day one wicket. There’s still a lot of work to do, we’re happy with the day but we know there’s a lot of improvement to be done.”
Asked to explain where he thought he day went wrong, Lyon felt that the period in between Hazlewood’s early work and Cummins’ short pitched assault was a little too generous to the hosts. “I think we can always keep learning about the game, but the Dukes balls tend to go a little bit soft and the wicket’s quite slow as well, which makes … I think the quicks nicked about six and they bounced a good metre in front of our slips,” he said. “That’s generally a sign of the pace in the wicket and how soft the ball is if the nicks aren’t carrying.
“It’s one of those ones where the short bowling is used as a tactic, and we saw it in the [2013-14] Ashes when Michael Clarke was captain. They’re totally different wickets but I thought the way Tim and Pat and others came to a plan and I think the way Josh stuck to his nagging length was exceptional.
“We’re playing Test cricket, playing against the best players in the world, there’s going to be partnerships here and there, that’s where it comes back to us bowlers hanging int here and doing the basics for long periods of time. I don’t think we did that well enough for Australian standards, our standards we have in our bowling cartel, and in that change room. It’s a positive sign we can get better.”
As for Hazlewood, Lyon indicated that his fellow New South Welshman had plenty more days like this one, where he nipped out England’s first three wickets and troubled everyone, lay ahead. “I think Josh has been a world-class bowler for a long period of time and I don’t think he’s got the rewards that he’s deserved as yet,” Lyon said. “I think they’re to come. In my eyes Josh is up in the top three best bowlers in test cricket in my personal eyes. I think his control of hitting that nagging length but having the skill to go both ways in and out.
“Then he’s got a pretty strong bouncer as well and it’s always usually on the money. I think Josh has been outstanding, I know he was disappointed to be left out of the first Test but to come back and bowl the way he did today, hats off to Josh, I thought he was the pick of our bowlers.”