Home > Features >

Nathan Lyon’s rise has taken care of Australia’s spin bowling conundrum

Nathan Lyon © Getty Images
Nathan Lyon has turned out to be a consistent performer for Australia in Tests © Getty Images

By Sudatta Mukherjee

In January 2007, three legends of Australian cricket bid goodbye to international cricket forever — Justin Langer, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. Even though Langer’s and McGrath’s absence were felt, there were players in the squad which came up to fill their boots. However, Warne’s departure left a void in the Australian spin department. Since Warne’s retirement, in the last seven years, Australia have used almost 10 spinners in the 25 Test series (including the ongoing series against South Africa) they have played.

When Warne played, he was accompanied by Stuart MacGill quite often and many people thought he would put on the spin spearhead’s hat after Warne’s departure. However, injuries kept him away and he surprised everyone by announcing retirement mid-series.

The other option was the Chinaman-bowler Brad Hogg. However, Hogg was more successful in the short formats of the game than Tests. In the seven Tests that he played, Hogg’s bowling average was 54.88 compared to his One-Day Internationals’ (ODIs) 26.84. After Warne’s retirement, while Hogg played only in three Test matches against India, picking up eight wickets at an average of 60.12, MacGill featured in four Tests, picking up 10 wickets at an average of 65.10.

Australia went on to use Jason Krejza, Cameron White, Nathan Hauritz, Bryce McGain, etc. More recently, the selectors even used Xavier Doherty, Ashton Agar and Glenn Maxwell, hoping that one of them would really take care of Australia’s spin bowling.

In the September of 2011, a lanky version of Jason Statham had struck into the international Test scene, surprising everyone by picking up a wicket with his first ball in Test. The then 23-year-old picked up five wickets in the first innings of the match. Nathan Lyon, the person concerned, produced the best bowling figures by an Australian in the series and second best by any bowler in the series. Since then he has played 31 Tests for Australia.

Lyon has taken some time to cement his place in the team. It would be an injustice to expect Lyon to reach the lofty heights of Warne: on the other hand, he has possibly done more than the selectors had expected of him initially.

In the Ashes 2013-14, for example, he picked up 19 wickets from five Tests and had gone almost unnoticed amidst Mitchell Johnson’s heroics. In the ongoing Test match against South Africa, he picked up six wickets.

Lyon has been touted as the next big Australian off-spinner and the day isn’t far away when he crosses Hugh Trumble’s record of 141 wickets. Lyon is just 32 Tests old and has a long way to go. He is 26 and should have at least a decade’s worth of cricket left in him (unless injuries or selectors play decide to intervene).

At this point, Australian selectors need to give him continuous matches to bring out the best out of him. The fact that he has been able to pick up six wickets in the second Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth, shows how important he is to Michael Clarke.

Now that Lyon has finally shaped up well as the first choice-spinner after a good Ashes series and even in the ongoing Test series, the Australian selectors should concentrate on building few youngsters. The Australian selectors can concentrate on training someone like Ashton Agar or Maxwell to come good when Australia needs them.

On a completely different note, it should be remembered that when Michael Hussey had retired, he had passed on the legacy of the iconic Under the Southern Cross I Stand to Lyon that had been something allowed to only the greats or future greats: Rodney Marsh, Allan Border, David Boon, Ian Healy, Ricky Ponting, Hussey…

Will Lyon be up there someday? Only time can tell.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 25, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Bengaluru

World T20 League 2014

Sep 26, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Mohali

World T20 League 2014

Sep 26, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Mohali

World T20 League 2014

Sep 27, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Bengaluru

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 23, 2014  at Raipur

Hobart Hurricanes won by 86 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 22, 2014  at Bengaluru

Chennai Super Kings won by 54 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 4 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014  at Hyderabad

Hobart Hurricanes won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 4 wkts

Photos

Cobras vs Hurricanes Match 6 at Hyderabad

Videos

Daniel Flynn looks ahead to Hobart game

Hobart Hurricanes vs Northern Knights, CLT20 2014 Match 9 at Raipur: Highlights

Live Cricket Score Hobart Hurricanes vs Northern Knights CLT20 2014 Match 9: Hurricanes register massive 86-run win

Australia on the verge of handing out 50 Test caps in a decade!

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Perth Scorchers CLT20 2014 Match 9: Preview

Hobart Hurricanes vs Northern Knights CLT20 2014: Northern Knights likely XI

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Champions League T20 2014 Chennai Super Kings CLT20 CLT20 2014 CSK vs Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins vs CSK Hobart Hurricanes Incheon Asian Games India at Asian Games 2014

Alastair Cook set to discover his fate as England’s ODI captain

Ben Laughlin’s terrific catch in Hobart Hurricanes vs Northern Knights CLT20 2014 match

Ashley Giles and other players carry 24 spare balls to play T20 match at Mount Kilimanjaro summit

Alastair Cook can’t handle Kevin Pietersen, says Geoffrey Boycott

Ben Hilfenhaus, Aiden Blizzard star in massive 86-run win for Hobart Hurricanes against Northern Knights in CLT20 2014 Match 9 at Raipur

Cheteshwar Pujara and other batsmen given out handling the ball

Hobart Hurricanes vs Northern Knights, CLT20 2014 Match 9 at Raipur: Highlights

Cricket in Canada: Coach Mukesh Narula travels around the vast nation to train players

Australia on the verge of handing out 50 Test caps in a decade!

Hobart Hurricanes vs Northern Knights, Match 9, CLT20 2014: Key Clashes

Fan of the Day

Edward Knowles

Edward Knowles

447 Posts | 1 Fans

Video: Brendon McCullum's amazing fielding in CSK vs Dolphins CLT20 2014 match

इन खाद्द पदार्थों के द्वारा किडनी को स्वस्थ रखें

Xiaomi offering free micro-SIM card trays to Mi 3 owners

Scared you’ll lose your job? It might be the reason for your frequent asthma attacks

Updated Retina iPad mini and 12.9-inch iPad Pro delayed till 2015: Report

Asian Games 2014 Live Updates: Shuttlers Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu & India-Pakistan hockey rivalry in spotlight

Bigg Boss 8: Sushant Divgikar hopes to sensitise TV viewers to LGBT cause via Salman Khan’s show

6 Smoothies that Pack a Punch

Here’s why the Bigg Boss 8 Secret Society is a big flop!

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here