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Nathan Lyon

'For me, it's about bowling ugly' in the UAE – Lyon

Australia news

Nathan Lyon returns to the United Arab Emirates for his second tour with the Test side as one of the leaders of the Australian attack and as a "better cricketer and person".

When Lyon takes the field for the first Test against Pakistan on 7 October, he will need only five more wickets to go past Brett Lee and become the fifth-highest wicket-taker for Australia in Test cricket. The second-most prolific bowler in the squad is Peter Siddle, who has 211 wickets to Lyon's 306 and will turn out for Australia after a gap of nearly two years.

They have Mitchell Starc too, who has 182 wickets, and while he has emerged as the spearhead of the Australian bowling attack, in the hot and dry conditions of the United Arab Emirates and a surface known to assist spin more than pace, Lyon, perhaps, has the biggest responsibility of the three, especially with Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood out due to injury.

But "no, not really," he told when asked if he shares the larger share of responsibility with the ball.

"Starcy and I spoke about that. It is just about providing good examples. Leading in a way we have tried to do in each and every game. The big thing over here is that we will have to bowl well in partnerships."

In addition to Siddle and Starc, Australia also have fast-bowling all-rounders Mitchell Marsh and Michael Neser in their midst and Lyon believes the pacers will not play merely to make up the numbers.

"The fast bowlers are here not just to make up the overs. They are here to attack and defend. It is not that only one person has to stand up here. It is the whole bowling unit," he said.

"It is going to be a great challenge and if we can bowl well in partnerships and if we can put the Pakistani line-up under pressure, and make sure they are being asked questions of their defence, that's going to be the biggest difference."

Inevitably, though, it will come down to how well the spinners bowl in Asia, a place where Australia's record has not been the greatest. With Jon Holland, the left-arm orthodox spinner who has 25 wickets in his last five first-class outings, for company, Lyon is now focussing on building a good relationship with his chief bowling partner.

"I am a big fan of Jon Holland. He has done extremely well back in the Shield games at home over the last couple of years and is a very talented bowler," Lyon said.

"We are good mates as well, so our communication while bowling together in the middle was brilliant. So hopefully we can build our relationship here and take that out in the middle."

Mitchell Starc returns to the Australian squad after a lengthy injury-forced layoff
Mitchell Starc returns to the Australian squad after a lengthy injury-forced layoff

And how exactly does he plan to build this relationship? "For me it's about bowling ugly over here. We will have to find a way to hit the stumps and that might be bowling the square or round-arm, whatever that may be," he said.

"So yeah, it's having those conversations. It has been a brilliant lead up here before the first Test. The four-day game here in a few days is going to be a great time for us to experiment and also see the way they are going to play us.

They have got different guys than Younis or Misbah, but they have still got a very talented batting line up

"They really tried to attack me the last time I was here and I am expecting pretty much the same. Obviously, they have got different guys than Younis [Khan] or Misbah [ul Haq], but they have still got a very talented batting line up, so it's going to be a great challenge."

Peter Siddle returns to the Australian set-up after a gap of nearly two years
Peter Siddle returns to the Australian set-up after a gap of nearly two years

In the current squad, only Starc, Siddle, Marsh and Lyon have experience of playing Test cricket in the UAE – in 2014 – and Lyon, for one, certainly believes has grown in stature since then. "I think I am a better cricketer and a better person," he said.

"The amount of cricket we play, we keep learning. If you're not learning in a side, then you get in a little bit of trouble. But I have definitely learnt a lot from my past experiences in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh and of course here in the UAE. I feel like I am in a better place."

Australia begin their tour with a four-day warm-up tie against Pakistan A from 29 September before the first Test in Dubai. The second and final Test will be played in Abu Dhabi from 16 October.

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