Australian cricket great Ricky Ponting has ripped into a former Ashes rival after he posted a tweet criticising an ex-teammate.
Nathan Lyon has taken more Test wickets than any English spin bowler in history – but former Test batter Kevin Pietersen isn’t overly impressed.
While the Aussie off-spinner was toiling away from Adelaide Oval’s cathedral end on Saturday afternoon, Pietersen offered England’s batters some free advice on Twitter.
“Can someone please smack Lyon? FFS!” he posted with a jumble of punctuation marks.
“Off-spinner with zero variations and bowling on world cricket’s flattest road!”
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It’s fascinating how quickly Pietersen forgot that Lyon dismissed him on four occasions in Test cricket – the only spin bowlers that claimed his wicket more often were Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan and Saeed Ajmal.
After Pietersen’s tweet started circling social media, former Australian captain Ricky Ponting analysed the numbers on Channel 7.
“400 Test wickets Kev,” he said.
“Lyon to Pietersen. Lyon got him four times for 163 runs and at the Adelaide Oval, the world‘s flattest cricket wicket, Kevin Pietersen, none for 14 off 23 balls with 15 dots and only one boundary.
“Come on Kev.”
Meanwhile, Lyon began generating some extra turn on the Adelaide deck, and the tweaker unearthed his first breakthrough in the 57th over.
England No. 6 Ollie Pope skipped down the crease and looked to flick Lyon through mid-wicket, but the right-hander only managed to clip the ball directly towards Marnus Labuschagne at short leg, who held onto a superb catch.
The 34-year-old snared another scalp after the tea interval, rattling the stumps of England all-rounder Chris Woakes with a delivery that turned sharply past the inside edge.
“I wonder if Kev’s still watching,” Ponting gloated from the commentary box.
“The GOAT’s just taken another one. This is high-class bowling, pushed him back. They left the field open on the off-side, inside edge back on the stumps.
“This is off spin of the highest class.”
As revealed by the CricViz boffins, Lyon’s deliveries to remove Pope and Woakes both spun six degrees – only one of his previous 25 Test wickets has turned more.
Lyon finished with figures of 3/58 off 28 overs as England’s batters were rolled for 236 on Saturday, trailing Australia by 237 runs in the first innings.
“All the Australian bowlers were outstanding, but I thought Nathan Lyon created a lot of pressure at one end,” Australian great Shane Warne said on Fox Cricket.
“He allowed the quicks to rotate at the other end, and that is what England lacked.
“Nathan Lyon has done a great job.”
The Australian off-spinner is three wickets away from becoming the highest wicket-taker at Adelaide Oval in Test history. Not bad for a tweaker with “zero variations” on the “flattest road” in world cricket.
Most Test wickets at Adelaide Oval
56 @ 30.44 – Shane Warne (AUS)
54 @ 26.51 – Nathan Lyon (AUS)
46 @ 23.02 – Glenn McGrath (AUS)
45 @ 26.80 – Dennis Lillee (AUS)
42 @ 27.66 – Craig McDermott (AUS)
“Nath was fantastic,” said teammate Mitchell Starc, who claimed four wickets with the pink ball in the first innings.
“He’s been world-class for a long time. He knows what he’s doing, no matter the colour of the ball.
“For us quicks to bowl in partnership with him, knowing that he’s going to do a fantastic job, was pretty keen in how well we went in that second session.
“There’s a little bit of purchase there for a spinner, and Nathan took full advantage.”
No. 3 batter Dawid Malan, who scored 80 on Saturday, warned that Lyon could be the most damaging Australian bowler in the second innings.
England didn’t select a strike spinner for the pink-ball fixture, but Lyon has proven that there’s plenty of turn on offer at Adelaide Oval.
“Nathan is obviously a fantastic bowler,” he told reporters at stumps. “His record speaks for itself, and how well he’s bowled so far in these two Test matches.
“Nathan might be a bit of a challenge with the way it has sort of ended up turning so far today, so hopefully it turns less as the Test goes on.”
Australia is 1/45 at stumps on day three, leading England by 282 runs. The second Ashes Test will resume on Sunday at 2.30pm local time (3pm AEDT).