Australia jump on the Lyon train ahead of milestone

Steve Smith has labelled Nathan Lyon as arguably Australia's most important bowler as the star spinner closes in on his magical 500-wicket milestone. 

Lyon needs just four more wickets to join the late, great Shane Warne (708) and former pace star Glenn McGrath (563) as Australians to have taken 500 Test wickets.

The feat will be a remarkable achievement for Lyon, a former groundsman who became Australia's most successful off-spinner.

The upcoming three-match Test series against Pakistan, which begins in Perth on Thursday, will mark Lyon's first international games since tearing his calf during the second Ashes Test in June.

The 36-year-old is a strong chance to reach the 500-wicket milestone during the opening Test at Perth's Optus Stadium - a venue where he has taken 22 wickets in three Tests.

Smith is looking forward to seeing Lyon back in action.

"There's no doubt we missed Nathan at the back end of the Ashes," Smith said. 

"What he brings to the attack and the control and different tempos - he can play defensive roles, he can play an attacking role and he's got all the tricks. 

"And closing in on 500 wickets - that's a serious feat in itself. 

"He's been incredible, particularly the last three or four years.

"He's continually learning and trying to get better as well. He's a valuable - if not the most valuable member in this team for our attack."

Smith said Australia's batters will have to be on alert for Pakistan pace duo Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

"Shaheen in particular with the new ball, the ability to bring it back down the line to the right handers is always a threat," Smith said. 

"Any left armer that can do that at good pace, it's a skill that we don't see too often. 

"I think he's improved a lot since he last came out here four years ago.

"And Hasan Ali - his ability to just be relentless at the top of off and challenge your defence, he's done that for a period of time and he's a good bowler."

Australia will take a settled XI into the series opener, with allrounder Mitch Marsh to be selected ahead of Cameron Green.

Marsh has enjoyed a remarkable career resurgence, highlighted by his 118 against England at Leeds in July in what was his first Test match since September, 2019.

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