Australia’s Ashes angel Nathan Lyon has England in a spin before Waca Test | Vic Marks

A year ago the spinner was on the brink of being dropped – now he is the linchpin of the side whose fizzing deliveries are tormenting batsmen

It feels unprecedented before a big match at the Waca that batsmen should spend time fretting about playing against an off-spinner. Here the talk has always been about pace and bounce and how to counteract it. Now there is the suggestion that the pitch might not be so pacy which means spin bowling could be more important. But there is another factor: according to their spin bowling coach, John Davison, Australia have the best spin bowler in the world in their team – and England have not been playing him too well.

There is even a fast-expanding fad this Christmas in Australia of putting a picture of The Goat, as Nathan Lyon is affectionately known here, on top of the Christmas tree, where the fairy or the angel usually sits. I promise that I’ve not made this up; take a look at Cricket Australia’s website. Perhaps the ECB’s website could conjure something similar with the ghosts of Christmas past. In the season of goodwill a few images of Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen in absolute harmony, hugging not headbutting, with their drinks still residing harmlessly in their glasses, might cheer everyone up.

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