Former Australian middle-order batsman Mike Hussey popularly known as Mr. Cricket is of the opinion that it has been the contrasting performances by the spinners of the home team and the visitors which has proved to be the difference between the two teams in the ongoing Ashes. As Australia look towards a 4-0 Test victory, there is no doubt about the fact that Nathan Lyon has been the backbone of Australia’s success.

The Australian bowling attack consisting of the spearheads Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood along with Nathan Lyon is the first quartet behind West Indies in 1995-96 and the Australian team which whitewashed England in 2006-07. Moreover, Lyon has been the most economical bowler for the Aussies and also bagging wickets on a consistent basis, most which have been left-handed batsmen.

“It’s been crucial for Australia’s chances of winning the Ashes for Nathan Lyon to bowl well,” Hussey told cricket.com.au.

“He’s had some left-handers to bowl to … that’s been important to him, he bowls very well to left-handers.

“But it’s been important that he’s bowled well and bowled long spells because that’s enabled Steve Smith to rotate the fast bowlers from the other end and keep them fresh, particularly aggressive-type bowlers like Mitchell Starc.”

Ashes 2017-18, Joe Root, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh,
Ashes 2017-18: Nathan Lyon returns with two scalps on the day. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

In contrast to Lyon’s 20 wickets in the ongoing Ashes so far, Moeen is in all likelihood going to finish the series on 5 Test wickets at an average of more than 115. England’s another premier spinner, Mason Crane who made his debut in the final Test bagged the 5th most expensive figures on a debut by a leg-spinner. However, Hussey feels that another premier spinner in the side willreduced the workload on Moeen Ali.

“You look at the quality of Nathan Lyon and the Australian spin bowling compared to England with Moeen Ali – he’s really found it tough,” Hussey said.

“It’s not easy for finger spinners to do well in Australia. He’s a different bowler to Nathan Lyon and his confidence hasn’t quite been there.  He’s bowled to try and keep it tight whereas Nathan Lyon, you can tell he’s attacking, looking for wickets.  Maybe there’s a difference in mindset there, but there’s also a difference in class.

“I personally see Moeen Ali as a batsman who can help out with the ball and perhaps having a second spinner there may have taken the pressure off him.” England coach Paul Farbrace after the end of the 4th day ‘s play said that Lyon has been as influential as Steve Smith in the series for the hosts.

Moeen Ali
LEEDS, ENGLAND – AUGUST 29: Moeen Ali of England organises his field positions with Joe Root during the fifth day of the second test between England and West Indies at Headingley on August 29, 2017, in Leeds, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Corbis via Getty Images)

“I think he’s had a fantastic effect on this series and he really has been … there were times when you talk about on flat pitches let’s make sure we get the seamers into second, third, fourth spells, he has been able to come on and bowl long spells.

“Right back to Brisbane, that surface probably surprised all of us with the way that it played, he bowled brilliantly from there and almost in a way we’ve not got away from his stranglehold.

“He bowled very well to start well there, we’ve found him hard to rotate against and he’s gone on to have a massive effect on this series.

“Along with Steven Smith has been their star performer in that he’s allowed their seamers to have decent periods of rest and he’s always been a threat and he’s always taken important wickets throughout the series, which is testimony to his high-level of skill.”

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