Nathan Lyon gets the scalp of Ben Stokes. Photo: Pat Scala
FORMER Canberra spinner Nathan Lyon has put ''points in the bank'' to prove his critics wrong and has cemented a long-term spot in the Test line-up, Australian great Mark Waugh says.
And Prime Minister's XI skipper Brett Lee has backed Lyon as a match-winning spinner for the future and insists the former ACT Comet should get credit for lifting Australia into a position of power in the Ashes.
Lyon became the first Australian off-spinner in 30 years to claim 100 wickets when he tore through the England lower order late on day three of the Boxing Day Test. He's just the fifth Australian off-spinner to reach 100 wickets in Test history.
Nathan Lyon and Mitch Johnson celebrate the wicket of Ian Bell. Photo: Getty Images
His five-wicket haul has put Australia on the cusp of a thrilling victory at the MCG and a successful run chase on Sunday would lift it to a 4-0 series lead.
Having already been dropped twice this year, Lyon's spot in the team has been under constant scrutiny.
But Waugh, a veteran of 128 Tests who scored 8000 runs and took 59 wickets with his own off-spin, said Lyon was ''clearly'' the best spinner in Australia and had silenced his critics.
''I think he's doing a good job, I like him as a bowler and he's a good competitor,'' Waugh said.
''He's clearly the best spinner in Australia, he keeps improving every year and he's a quick learner.
''He's got a great temperament and all the aspects to be a long-term prospect in the Australian side.''
Lyon is being considered for a spot alongside Lee in the PM's XI, but the team won't be finalised until late next week at the earliest.
The PM's XI will play England at Manuka Oval on January 14.
Lyon has enjoyed a rapid rise since leaving Canberra three years ago to link with South Australia.
He has played 28 Tests since making his debut in 2011 and now has 101 wickets after demolishing England.
The 26-year-old is Australia's most successful spinner in the post-Shane Warne era.
Australia has used 12 spinners since leg-spinning legend Warne retired in 2007 and Lyon lost his spot to Ashton Agar for the first two Tests of the Ashes series in England earlier this year.
''You can't compare anyone to Shane Warne, it's totally different and we're not going to ever have another spinner as good as Shane Warne,'' Lee said.
''I'm really happy for Nathan … he's had more comebacks than Rambo.
''You have to give credit to him. This is a bloke who was a groundsman only a few years ago and it's worked out for him. I hope he's in there for a long time and I think he can be.''
''There's no one else close to him in Australia, he's clearly the best. He's got a few points in the bank even if he has a bad game,'' Waugh said.
''In my eyes, he's definitely cemented his spot in the team.
''I don't see anyone in Australia who is anywhere near as good as him. I think that's going to help him relax and it won't put too much pressure on him.
''He's part of a good bowling attack. He'll win games for Australia for keeping it nice and tight from one end and then every now and then he'll take his big haul of wickets.''
Lyon is just the 35th Australian to claim 100 Test wickets.
Bowling in a blustery wind at the MCG, Lyon kept alive Australia's ambition of a series clean sweep with his maiden five-wicket haul in Ashes cricket.
His 5-50 in 17 overs was instrumental in keeping Australia's fourth-innings target to 231.