Melbourne: For an Ashes series tipped to be decided by glowering pacemen, the opening Tests have instead served to highlight the supremacy of Australia’s spin bowling through the once criminally underrated Nathan Lyon. The offspinner’s reputation has reached cult hero status among home fans in the past year but the Ashes could take it into a new stratosphere if he continues his brilliant start at the third test at the WACA next week.
Steve Smith may be Australia’s captain and a mad genius with the bat, but Lyon is the GOAT — Greatest Of All Time — with 280 Test wickets and the record for an Australian “offie”. The tally is all the more impressive given Australia’s ungenerous pitches.
Lyon would need 428 wickets to catch Shane Warne’s 708 but the record could be under threat if he can match the “self-belief” of the peerless Australian legspinner, coach Darren Lehmann told local radio last week. Far more than a bowler, Lyon has become an inspiration to his team mates with his acrobatic fielding and his enthusiastic sledging.
Prior to the series, he tore a strip off the 2013/14 England that were whitewashed 5-0 and targeted Joe Root’s team in the same public rant. It was all for the team, he said with a shrug, as pundits denounced his character in British newspapers. He backed up his words with five wickets at the Gabba and an inspired piece of fielding to run out England number three James Vince....