Lyon poised to finish Poms at the SCG
NATHAN Lyon is primed to feast on England's carcass on Monday after Australia scorched their way towards Ashes glory at the SCG.
England were burnt to a crisp after a session-and-a-half in Sydney's 57 degree slow cooker, before a declaration opened the gate for Lyon to finish the kill on a turning pitch.
Lyon (2-31) ensured it should only be a matter of time until Australia lift the urn as 4-0 victors today, as he blazed through Alastair Cook's defences in his very first over with a stunning delivery that epitomised the off-spinner's dominance this summer.
However, this has been one of the great all-round performances in history with Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins only the fourth attack to ever all finish a series with at least 20 wickets each.
England limped to stumps at 4-93 and the Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow partnership shapes as the final resistance before the end comes, as Australia chase the final six wickets required.
"He's had a massive effect on this series and along with Steve Smith he's been their star performer in that he's allowed the seamers decent periods of rest but also seemed a constant threat," said England assistant coach, Paul Farbrace.
"He's taken wickets throughout the series which is a testament to his high level of skill.
"We've not got away from his stranglehold."
Shaun Marsh, who along with brother Mitchell made twin centuries to give Australia a 303-run lead (now down to 210) said the conditions were tailor made for Lyon to wreak havoc.
"Gaz is obviously the key tomorrow," he said after Australia declared at 7-649.
"The wicket is definitely suiting him and especially with the left-handers he'll come into play. He showed his class today."
England were left mentally and physically disintegrated and spearheads Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins took full advantage, tearing out of the blocks to banish rookies Mark Stoneman and James Vince and leave the embattled tourists pining for a plane ticket home.
However, Lyon looms large as the chief destroyer on a weary day five wicket, if last night's barbecuing of Cook and then Dawid Malan was anything to go by.
When Australia whitewashed England four years ago, Mitchell Johnson was a one-man steamroller as he finished the series with a whopping 37 wickets to his name.
Australia's bowling has again been the clear difference between the two sides, only this time the attack has hunted as one with remarkable cohesion.
Starc (22) is the leading wicket-taker but Josh Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon each have 20 apiece, and the awesome foursome stands comfortably clear of any of England's bowlers - Jimmy Anderson the best of them with 17.
This Australian attack has been described as the country's best since Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne and so far they're living up to the hype, with the next acid test to come in South Africa in March.
Every Test this series has gone the full five days but Australia has never looked headed in the war of attrition.
Australia could have been sipping champagne on Sunday night after three strikes before and after tea left England scrambling at 3-43.
Joe Root (42 not out) also copped a nasty blow to the finger which could present a worry for England heading into the one-dayers, although he battled on and at least ensured England would send the Test into the final day.
Spin king Shane Warne marvelled at Lyon's systematic dismantling of Cook as a piece of off-spinning genius.
"He set him up beautifully. It was as good an over as you can bowl as an off-spinner in the first over," Warne said on Channel Nine.
"It was just excellent. A man in form and who has got confidence."
Cummins and Lyon both went to 20 wickets and Josh Hazlewood could have gone to 21 if Shaun Marsh at first slip didn't grass a chance off Cook.
It mattered little as Cook perished to Lyon a short time later.
Shaun (156) and Mitchell Marsh (101) earlier piled on the first century partnership by Australian brothers since the Waugh twins back in 2001.
They were both outstanding and their celebrations provided a touching moment for a family that have often served as fodder for critics and social media trolls alike.