Just six wickets separate Nathan Lyon and R Ashwin. If Australia’s Lyon can take seven or more wickets in the second Test, he can become the off spinner with most Test wickets since Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan. Lyon is sitting on 436 Test wickets from 109 matches while Ashwin, who isn’t playing in the ongoing Test against England, has 442 from 86 Tests. Muralitharan is far above the pack with 800 wickets from 133 Tests.
“I’m not really sure where I stand on the (all-time wicket-taking) list … (but) the top end of the wicket takers, there’s some amazing names there,” Lyon said after he starred with nine wickets in the first Test as Australia blew away Sri Lanka in just three days. “It’s something I’m proud of but will look at in more depth at the end of my career. But that’s a long way off.”
In 2011, when Lyon had called from Sri Lanka with the news that he would be making his Test debut, the father would blurt out, “Oh, that’s good. You will play one game!” And then hung up the phone. “I have since figured out that Dad didn’t know what to say ’cos you get too emotional,” Lyon would laugh in the podcast Ordineroli Speaking. “I was gonna play one game and get a tracksuit.”
Ahead of the first Test, Lyon had spoken about how he was going to bowl a bit differently – a tad more “ugly”. He defined what he meant by ugliness.
Lyon is known for his over-spin deliveries which bounces a lot more than the off spinners who rely on side-spin.
“It’s different variations which don’t really work in Australia. That potentially might be round-arm, totally undercutting it, slight little wrist position (changes) – behind the ball, beside the ball, etc. That’s my terms of bowling ugly.
“I still believe in spinning up the back of the ball and that’s (effective) no matter where it is,” Lyon said, “and that’s purely myself believing that my skill is good enough to perform wherever in the world. But what’s come to me on my terms – and this is purely me – is the ability and willingness to bowl ugly.
“That’s only me talking about my bowling and how I can be more effective over here. That’s something I’ll be trying to do, is look to bowl a little bit more ugly than what I’m used to.
The former New Zealand left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, who is also Australia’s assistant coach now, heaped on the raves.
“There are very few bowlers who are able to be consistent with that amount of top spin and revolutions. It’s a really tricky thing to do.
“And then you see the development of that bowler, to read conditions, to add things to his armoury and a desire to just keep wanting to get better.”