The Australian selectors should replace Ashton Agar with Nathan Lyon at Old Trafford given the former’s bowling performances thus far: he has taken two wickets for 248 runs at an average of 124, statistics that even a stunning innings of 98 in Nottingham cannot mask.
If history is to repeat itself in this week’s third Ashes Test, the Manchester track will favour slow bowlers as the typically abrasive pitch cracks up as the match progresses. Subsequently, Nathan Lyon (5/1) represents the value for Top Australia 1st Innings Wicket-Taker with Ladbrokes.
As Agar was handed his first Baggy Green by Glenn McGrath at Trent Bridge, it was Lyon who quickly became the forgotten man. By the time Agar was heading back to the pavilion an agonising two runs short of a century, it was a case of “Nathan Who?”.
When Lyon was thrust into the Test arena in similar circumstances against Sri Lanka in 2011, he promptly dismissed Kumar Sangakara on his way to figures of 5-34. Australia had unearthed the new Shane Warne.
And although Lyon hasn’t quite lived up that billing since, his career statistics aren’t half bad: he has taken 76 Test wickets at an average of 33.18. Most staggeringly, his best figures actually came in Australia’s last Test match before the Ashes, where he took nine match wickets against India in Delhi.
Elsewhere, Peter Siddle was Australia’s best bowler in Nottingham (8-135), whilst Ryan Harris lead the attack admirably at Lord’s (7-103) but with the pitch unlikely to help either of them out a price of 5/2 offers minimal value.
A more worthy alternative to spin may be the under-used Shane Watson who is 7/1 to top the wickets tally. His tricky medium-pace is hard to get away and with extra bounce expected over the first couple of days he might be given more overs, especially if David Warner is selected to open and Watson is shunted down the order.
All Odds and Markets are correct at time of publication.