From the curator of the Adelaide Oval to someone who has taken 355 Test wickets, there is a feel-good factor to Nathan Lyon’s way of making the big stage. What makes it better is the fact he keeps proving people wrong.
When there were calls for this man to be dropped from the Test side many within the public just didn’t see him performing well enough on a consistent basis to be considered Australia’s number one spin option in the Test arena.
Well, it is fair to say since then he has certainly put those embarrassing calls to bed.
He has now equalled the legendary Dennis Lillee’s tally of 355 Test wickets which is a further indication on just how far he has come since debuting back in Galle all those years ago.
For Lyon to have no spin to work with, in a lot of situations and still deceive some very good players shows this is a man who has developed a skillset which does not just rely on the off break.
All the talk over recent years has mainly been around the fast bowlers, but there is no denying that Lyon has had just as big of an impact. He gives the Australians something others can not which makes him an invaluable part of the Test setup.
What confuses most who understand how good of a bowler Lyon is for the Australian Test side is just how underrated he is to opposition sides.
One does sort of get the feeling that no one really takes his threat seriously because of the likes of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, but he is just as important.
If I were opposition sides going into a series against Australia, Lyon would be one of my first talking points.
“Garry” was the perfect nickname for Nathan Lyon. It embodies his charm and the unassuming qualities of a master craftsman. But it is not his nickname anymore.
Lyon is now known as “GOAT”, for “greatest of all time” in recognition of the many scalps that have made him, almost by stealth, the most successful finger-spinner in Australian Test history.
Bowling finger spin on traditionally hard, true Australian pitches is an unforgiving occupation and Lyon has become the first of the breed to take 100 wickets at home.
Yet in his six-year Test career, the former horticulture apprentice, who combined net bowling with his job as an assistant curator at the Adelaide Oval before his selection for the Redbacks, has been cursorily underrated.
Lyon has a mentor and dedicated spin coach working with him throughout the season.
John Davison, who played for Victoria and South Australia, has helped develop Lyon’s ability to give the ball even more of a rip with his fingers to impart the overspin that generates uncanny bounce.
The evidence of all that advice and dedicated practice was never more apparent than the famous Test match in Bangalore, where Lyon spun out India for 189, taking a career-best 8 for 50 with balls that leapt and turned.
He even duped the masterly Virat Kohli, inducing him to pad up to one that drifted and fizzed into his shin.
Lyon has seen off all rivals. Those that trialled for the job — including Nathan Hauritz, Bryce McGain, Beau Casson, Jason Krejza, Michael Beer and even Steve Smith — have come and gone or changed job descriptions.
The finger-spinner is set to surpass Dennis Lillee’s 355 Test wickets, with only Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (563) ahead on the all-time Australian list.
Lyon, who has 88 Test caps, has seemingly flown under-the-radar despite numbers saying he’s a modern great.
Interestingly, Lyon has taken more wickets than any Test bowler in the world since he debuted against Sri Lanka in 2011.
The 31-year-old finger-spinner could have more than five years left in the tank and therefore overtake Warne as Australia’s all-time wicket-taker. All said and done though, Nathan Lyon is criminally underrated.