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Nathan’s world: Of nonchalance and 'Lyon'-hearted spells

Modified 21 Dec 2019, 00:10 IST

Among the most unassuming cricketers in the world, Lyon goes about his business in a very effective and simple manner.
Among the most unassuming cricketers in the world, Lyon goes about his business in a very effective and simple manner.

Is there anything better in this world to look at when two teams go head to head, fighting to come out on top in a battle for supremacy that goes on for five days? I do not think so. Test cricket returned to the television sets and returned spectacularly with two of the oldest rivals engaging in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.

While the first four days were a see-saw battle, the fifth one ended with England being handed a crushing defeat on a ground they did not lose for nineteen years prior to this one. Steve Smith was the chief destroyer for Australia but their frontline off-spinner, Nathan Lyon perhaps played the most important role in the entire Test match. That is how it has often been for Lyon, hasn’t it?

It has always been like that ever since his debut all those years ago. Nathan Lyon has never quite been the main guy in the team, and might not be up until he hangs his boots. What I fancy in that is how he likes it. He will always be that guy to raise his hand during the tough times and spin Australia out of trouble. He has always toiled for his team when the conditions and the opposition batting unit have the hand over them. For an instance, when Rory Burns was hitting his way to a 133, and when England were taking their time scoring in the first inning of the first test, Lyon labored for the Aussies as he bowled 43.5 overs.

Ever since his debut back in 2011, he has bowled over 40 overs in an innings on 19 occasions. All this hard-work put in by him reaps huge rewards for him in the third and fourth innings of a Test. He has picked up 153 wickets in just 1589.1 overs compared to the 202 wickets in 2170.4 overs in the first and second innings of a Test match. While these numbers aren't the best, the wickets tally is effective and helps the Aussie team get 20 wickets in a test more often than not and go on to win it.

What is it though that makes Nathan Lyon such an effervescent, indispensable part of the Aussie line up though? Is it that he brings the classic winning mentality in abundance with him, and in the regular Aussie way? Collars up, sunglasses and zinc at the ready with chewing gum popping throughout the day? Or is it his smile coupled with the constant chirps aimed at the batsmen whether from backward point or the bowling crease? What is it that makes Nathan Lyon tick in the Test arena and to the supporters of the game?

It is a certain amount of nonchalance that he brings on the field. He knows it is not necessary that he will get an opportunity to bowl and yet when it does come in on a difficult surface, he keeps nagging away at the batsman. The reps that he generates make him a hard bowler to face, his easy looking shots make him a more complete number ten than most in world cricket. But, above all, it is his long spells that allow him to open the game up for himself in the fourth innings that make ‘the GOAT’ different from the rest.

Part of arguably the best attack for the past four to five years, ‘Gazza’ as he is fondly called by his teammates is a jack who mastered the art of spin bowling and as a result, has carved a piece of history for himself.

Also read – Ashes Highest Total chased

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Published 19 Aug 2019, 22:29 IST
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