Nice, Garry: The rise of the GOAT

Dylan Carmody Roar Guru

By , Dylan Carmody is a Roar Guru

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    Less than eight years ago, Nathan Lyon was the curator of the Adelaide Oval, and cricket as a living was nothing more than a dream. Now, he is the greatest off-spinner in Australian cricketing history.

    It has been a remarkable rise for the man now dubbed as the ‘GOAT’, and is probably the shining example of where hard work and dedication can lead to.

    Moving from New South Wales to further his career, Lyon found himself a job as one of the curators of the Adelaide Oval.

    Before long, he was playing on the very ground, picked in the South Australian T20 team, in the early days of Big Bash cricket. There were no long sleeve shirts, no bald head and no long drawls of “Niceeeeee Garryyyyyy”.

    There was just the skinny off-break bowler, who had no amazing attributes other than the fact that he had great flight, dip, bounce, and could give the ball a good rip.

    Therefore, many were taken by surprise when after only a handful of first-class games for the Redbacks, Lyon was on the plane to Sri Lanka, another spinner selected as the selectors were in the middle of their quest for the next Shane Warne.

    That surprise was soon quelled though, as Lyon ripped through the Sri Lankan batting line-up, claiming 5-34 on debut, including the prized wicket of arguably the greatest Sri Lankan batsmen to play the game, Kumar Sangakarra. Oh, and he did it first ball too.

    Going through the highs of a 5-fer in the Boxing Day Ashes Test, to the lows of his inability to lead Australia to victory in Adelaide against South Africa, where a Faf Du Plessis century secured a draw for the Proteas, Lyon’s lowest point came when he was dropped in favour of the teenage Ashton Agar for the first Test of the 2013 Ashes in England.

    This was caused by his struggles in India, where the Australians were soundly beaten 4-0.

    More than anything, this served as the catalyst to his rise. He returned to the Australian squad, and answered his critics only a year later, bowling the Australians to victory at Adelaide against the Indians, collecting match figures of 12/286.

    This started to become a trend, with Lyon only getting better and better. He returned to India this year, and was the standout bowling, taking 19 wickets at an average of 25.26, including career best figures of 8-50.

    Now, in the dustbowls of Dhaka and Chittagong, Nathan Lyon is the leading wicket-taker, having collected 21 wickets for the series against Bangladesh.

    He has reached incredible heights. He broke Richie Benaud’s wicket taking record (he is now the second-best spin bowler in Australian history by wickets taken). He is the most successful bowler in 2017 so far. He has three consecutive five wicket hauls (first to do so since Shane Warne in 2004).

    nathan-lyon-cricket-australia-2017

    (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

    He has the highest match haul by an Australian in Asia (13-154) and is only 31 scalps off being the sixth Australian to have taken 300 Test wickets.

    Not only has Lyon made impacts on the field, but he has done so off-field also. The cult following of Matthew Wade’s drawl of “Nice Garry” behind the pegs every time Lyon bowled caught on rapidly.

    Social media can be a strange thing, and it resulted in a Facebook event where everyone at the first day of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG last year was going to scream “Nice Garry” as loud as they could on his third ball.

    Lyon himself ruined this though, as he took the wicket of Sami Aslam on his third ball. Instead of having over 80,000 people yell in unison “Nice Garry”, they went ballistic instead.

    When you take a look at Lyon, there’s nothing about him that screams ‘superstar’. He is pretty skinny, balding and is fairly quiet when it comes towards the public side of things.

    The only difference between him and myself is that he is the greatest off-spin bowler in Australian history, and I’m writing about the greatest off-spin bowler in Australian history.

    The key to Lyon’s success isn’t well he flights the ball, or how much bounce he gets, or even how much he spins it (though that does help). Nathan Lyon works extremely hard, and is incredibly resilient.

    Remember, cricket is 25 per cent physical, and 75 per cent mental. Nathan Lyon has been smashed on the field by the best batsmen in the world, and off the field by armchair experts on Facebook. He’s had everything thrown at him, and he’s still managed to come out on top.

    Mentally, he’s incredible, and has worked so hard at his game. It should be a lesson to every junior cricketer out there, that even with a little bit of talent, you can make it far, with resilience and a determination to succeed.

    Nathan Lyon started out less than ten years ago as a groundskeeper, playing club cricket. Now, he has 269 Test wickets, having just taken a career best of 13-154 in Chittagong. He sits as Australia’s greatest ever Test off-spinner, and the second greatest spin bowler for Australia.

    And he’s only 29 years old. Not bad for a curator.

    With his Test career still so young, and with Lyon nearing the 300 wicket mark in only his 69th Test, you have no choice but to sit back and think to yourself: ‘nice, Garry.’

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