Lyon has to start against England given Old Trafford record of spinners
Spin has often proved king at Old Trafford and for this reason there can be little argument that Australia have to recall Nathan Lyon for the third Test with England if they are to have any hope of saving the Ashes.
Looking at the 10 bowlers with the best bowling averages at Old Trafford, six are spinners, with Jim Laker leading the way in a list that also includes West Indian Lance Gibbs and Australian legend Shane Warne.
Lyon was somewhat unfortunate to be dropped in the first instance, having taken nine wickets in his final Test in Delhi against India.
However, it was decided that Ashton Agar was a better fit at Trent Bridge, possibly because of the weakness that Kevin Pietersen has previously shown against left-arm spin bowling.
Australia made a similar move in the Ashes that ran across late 2010 and early 2011 when Xavier Doherty was called up at the expense of Nathan Hauritz.
This didn’t prove overly successful as Doherty took just three wickets in the first two Tests at an average of 151. Yet Agar has proved even worse with just two wickets at 252.
The fact that he is not only still a teenager, but learning steeply after a short first-class career are reasons to persevere, alongside the fact that his batting has been noteworthy.
Australia are already forced into one bowling change at Old Trafford with James Pattinson out for the duration of the series with a back injury.
The obvious change for the Aussies would be to bring back left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc after he was dropped for the second Test, but there is a real case to be made for two spinners to be selected, especially with opening batsman Shane Watson liable to contribute a few overs.
With Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris left out of the three-dayer with Sussex before the third Test, their places look assured, so it is between Starc, Lyon, Agar, James Faulkner and Jackson Bird for the remaining two bowler spots.
After losing by 347 runs at Lord’s in the second Test, it is perhaps a surprise that Australia are as short as 4/1 to triumph at Old Trafford, with England favourites at a tempting 8/11.
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