Hussey had great vision judging Lyon’s heart for Test cricket

David Lord Columnist

By , David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    When Mike Hussey hung up his baggy green against Sri Lanka at the SCG in 2013, he had one final job to do – name his replacement as lead singer of the Australian cricket team’s victory song.

    “Underneath the Southern Cross I Stand” is a Henry Lawson poem Rod Marsh turned into the victory song in the 1970s.

    Since then the lead singer had to be someone of importance to the side, other than the captain. Hussey was anointed by Justin Langer, and there was a lot pf conjecture at the time who Hussey would select.

    David Warner, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, and Mitchell Starc were the popular choices, but Hussey came from left field for Nathan Lyon, who was playing only his 19th Test.

    In an inauspicious start, Lyon had taken only 59 wickets, and had 10 digs where he went wicketless.

    But in Mike Hussey’s eyes, Lyon was to be an integral member of future Australian teams – and he was right on the money when the vast majority thought Lyon’s Test career was to be limited.

    Lyon’s 263 Test scalps surpasses legendary leggie Richie Benaud’s 248, with Lyons now second all-time to Shane Warne’s 708 among Australian spinners.

    The transformation supported Hussey’s vision.

    In his last seven Tests Lyon has taken 40 wickets at 23.62, way below his career average of 32.33. In his last three innings, it’s 16 wickets at 15.94.

    If the Australians are to square this series with Bangladesh, it will need another Lyon wicket haul to clinch the win.

    What makes Lton’s success so remarkable, is the fact offies are a rare commodity among the world’s most successful bowlers. In the top 100, which is dominated by the quicks, there are only six offies.

    Three of them have earned special places among the greats. In chronological order, Jim Laker, Lance Gobbs and Muttiah Muralitharan head the list.

    Laker owns the best match figures of all-time with his 19-90 off 68 overs with 27 maidens when he ripped through a strong Australian batting line-up at Old Trafford in 1956.

    Tony Lock claimed the only other wicket to fall in England’s innings defeat of the Australians.

    Try this Aussie line-up – Colin McDonald, Jim Burke, Neil Harvey, Ian Craig, Keith Miller, Ken Mackay, Ron Archer, Richie Benaud, Ray Lindwall, Len Maddocks, and captain Ian Johnson.

    The second historical achiever was Lance Gibbs, the first to claim 300 Test wickets. Retiring with 307 wickets from 79 Tests, averaging 29.09 with an economy rate of 1.98.

    At the time most pundits agreed nobody would ever beat that feat, until Murali came along with his staggering 800 wickets from 133 Tests, by far the best, averaging 22.72 with an economy rate of 2.47 an over.

    That leaves Ravi Ashwin, Saqlain Mushtaq, and Nathan Lyon.

    Ashwin has 292 wickets from just 52 Tests, averaging 25.47 with an economy rate of 2.89. Mushtaq is the junior of offie wicket-takers with 202 from 40 Tests, averaging 29.83 with an economy rate of 2.64.

    That leaves Nathan Lyon with his 263 wickets playing his 69th Test, averaging 32.33 with a economy rate of 3.15. They are not the best in the field for offies, but they are the best for an Australian, and he’s going from strength to strength.

    Lyon’s patience with his loop landing on line and length justifies what Mike Hussey believed four years ago. Nathan Lyon deserves more respect, he’s a class competitor who is doing Australian cricket proud.

    And it couldn’t happen to a better bloke.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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