Home > Features >

Nathan Lyon: Australia’s go-to spinner in a pace-dominated attack

Nathan Lyon has gradually become the No 1 spinner for Australia © Getty Images
Nathan Lyon has gradually become the No 1 spinner for Australia © Getty Images

By Bharath Ramaraj

Traditional off-spinners without a doosra relying on skills like flight, guile and subtle changes of pace are not looked upon kindly by modern day national selectors. However, Nathan Lyon of Australia, using those supposedly prosaic skills, has climbed up the ladder to gradually become Australia’s go-to man in the spin department. In fact, he deserves a pat or two on the back for making an impression in a pace dominated bowling line-up of Australia.

When Lyon made his Test debut against New Zealand at the Gabba in 2010-11, just like Peter Taylor in the late 1980s, he was an unknown quantity. He was picked from the obscurity of being one among the Adelaide ground staff in 2010 to donning the Australian Test cap. His rise to the top is truly a rags to riches story.

Now, Lyon is no Graeme Swann to have that freakish ability to generate mind blowing revolutions on the ball. But just like any other fine spinner, he has a stock delivery in the traditional Australian mould of bowling outside the off-stump and teasing the batsmen to drive through covers. He also spins it hard which is such a key factor for any off-spinner to succeed.

In the just concluded Ashes 2013-14 series against England, on the face of it, the five-for he took at MCG in the fourth Test may not look great, as it can be argued that English batsmen gifted him wickets on a platter. But if we scratch the surface, underneath, one can notice that just like an enchantress, he enticed them to the deadly trap by inviting them to play shots. The best spinners in the game are always prepared to get hit to take wickets. Even in the series in England when they recalled him after the experiment with Ashton Agar flopped miserably, he held his own. He also showed versatility by bowling from around the wicket and trouble Kevin Pietersen with a strong on-side field in that series. In particular, at Chester le Street in the third Test, he bowled with remarkable control and earned every one of his seven wickets in the game.

Undoubtedly, he plays a key role in Australia’s pace dominated bowling line-up. If the pacers were the catalyst for England’s demise, then Lyon has gone about doing a holding job in a fine fashion. The pacers can’t bowl forever and they need some rest in between. This is where a spinner’s role becomes doubly important. A spinner also has to look like taking wickets and Lyon washed away that challenge too with aplomb. Remember, along with Peter Siddle, he was Australia’s top wicket-taker in the calendar year of 2013. He snared 42 wickets last year.

Since the retirement of Shane Warne, Australia have searched nook and cranny of their domestic cricket for a fine spinner with no real success. But in Nathan Lyon, they may have just found a spinner who bowls with equanimity and a calm head on his shoulders and is prepared to get hit for a few sixes from the willowy wielders in order to tempt them to their doomsday. He has cemented his place as Australia’s lead spinner and from their perspective, he will continue to stick to his strengths and pen an indelible mark in the Test arena.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Chittagong

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Colombo

More

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Sydney

Australia won by 2 wkts

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 22, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 87 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Melbourne

Australia won by 3 wkts

Photos

Australia vs South Africa, 3rd ODI at Canberra

Videos

SL vs Eng: Buttler practices wicketkeeping in nets

Quinton de Kock’s century in vain as Australia register two wicket win over South Africa

Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque register second-highest opening partnership for Bangladesh in ODIs

ICC World Cup 2015: Australia in risk of overkill

Live Cricket Score Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2nd ODI at Chittagong: Bangladesh eye comfortable victory

India vs Australia 2014: How crucial are India’s practice games ahead of the first Test?

Australia Australia vs South Africa Australia vs South Africa 2014 Bangladesh India New Zealand New Zealand tour of UAE 2014 New Zealand vs Pakistan 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of Australia 2014 South Africa vs Australia South Africa vs Australia 2014 Zimbabwe Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh 2014

Solomon Mire gets his maiden ODI fifty

India vs Australia 2014: Sourav Ganguly feels 1st Test will have a huge bearing on tour

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2nd ODI at Chittagong: Regis Chakabva and Solomon Mire steady Zimbabwe innings

India tour of Australia 2014-15: Virat Kohli says India well-equipped to deal with Mitchell Johnson

VVS Laxman backs Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara to come good in Australia

Saeed Ajmal: 99 per cent bowlers will fail 15 degree test

Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque register second-highest opening partnership for Bangladesh in ODIs

ICC World Cup 2015: Australia in risk of overkill

Is Dhawal Kulkarni a contender for India’s ICC World Cup 2015 squad?

World Cup 1992: Arjuna Ranatunga masterminds first ever 300-plus ODI chase

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

681 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli vs Australian cricketers

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Rithvik Dhanjani’s gives girlfriend Asha Negi tips and tricks for her stint in Khatron Ke Khiladi!

Aditya Chopra to cast Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif in his next!

How many calories do bananas have?

5 smart tricks to make your grocery shopping healthy

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here