Australia – a land laden with glorious sporting history, rugged terrain, and fierce weather. The coarseness of the landscape has invariably seeped into the way the Aussies play the game of Cricket.
The country has produced a strong and impressive lineage of cricketers who have always made the world sit up and take notice.
There’s something about an Aussie’s body language- hardly subdued; always on charge. The massive pride taken by the Australians in wearing the ‘Baggy Green’ is sometimes fraught with vanity and snobbery. The likes of Jeff Thompson, Dennis Lillie and Mitchell Johnson made life difficult for batsmen with their barrage of vicious deliveries punctuated with typical Aussie sledging. Being hot-headed on the field isn’t a deliberate portrayal or indicative of masking, rather a natural competitive phenomenon the Australians walk into the field with.
The magnificent performances we have been used to seeing from Australia have typically been woven around all-round brilliance, complemented with their coming hard at their opponents. Against this backdrop, having a chirpy, smiling Nathan Lyon brings in a lot of difference, perhaps a throwback to the Adam Gilchrist era.
Nathan Lyon may not be the typical grumpy, cuss-word using Aussie bowler.
In fact, on the contrary, he carries with him an air of calm and nonchalance.
When Shane Warne managed to turn a venomous leg-break across Mike Gatting at Manchester in 1993, it heralded a golden era for leg-spin bowling. But, the retirement of Shane Warne spelt a prolonged period of lull for Australia’s spin contingent. The likes of Xavier Doherty, Jason Krejza and Nathan Hauritz never quite performed consistently and eventually lost their places. But, things have changed since Nathan Lyon has settled into the Australian scheme of things. The emergence of Lyon has given Australia the ammunition to take advantage of spin friendly conditions. In fact, Lyon’s recent steady performance in Bangladesh saved Australia the ignominy of losing to Bangladesh.
It clearly shows that Nathan Lyon is the leader of Australia’s spin revival and can make them perform well in India and Sri Lanka in the years to come.
Lyon also holds the record for the most Test wickets taken by an Australian off-spin bowler, going past Hugh Trumble’s 141 wickets in 2015. Lyon’s credentials in the shortest form were proved when he emerged as the joint leading wicket – taker in the 2010-11 edition of the Big Bash league thereby helping the Southern Redbacks to win the title. Interestingly, Lyon became the 14th bowler overall to have taken a wicket with the very first delivery of an international career. His maiden five-for in his first test outing against Sri Lanka at Galle was enough to prove his mettle as a classical off-break bowler.
There’s a lot to like about Nathan Lyon
His efficacious smile makes him a likeable Aussie cricketer. He may not have all the variations one expects from a trailblazing spinner but he sticks to his strengths. His tenacity and belief in his own abilities made him emerge as the highest wicket taker in 2017 leaving behind the likes of Ashwin and Starc.
The year 2018 has started equally well for both Lyon and Australia.
In fact, his one-handed pluck of Moeen Ali at Adelaide was one of the talking points of the Ashes. From being a member of the ground staff at Adelaide Oval to burning a toast at a Sheffield Shield Game, ‘Garry has seen it all’. But, what has stood out so far is Lyon’s temperament, courage and his ability to rise above all odds.
Let’s hope Lyon keeps on spinning a magical web around oppositions for Australia in the years to come.