Out of Warne’s shadow, a Lyon emerges

Adam Daunt Roar Pro

By , Adam Daunt is a Roar Pro

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    It says a lot about the career of Shane Warne that his legacy still lingers over Australian cricket.

    Subconsciously or consciously, there is an era which can be defined as Post-Warne, where no spinner, regardless of on-field feats, felt good enough.

    They weren’t match winners. They lacked the x-factor, the charm, the personality.

    They simply were not Shane Warne.

    Very few are like Warne, not many spinners can dominate games in the way he could. Fewer still possesses his statistical record.

    First player to reach 700 first class wickets, Australia’s most prolific bowler. There are more plaudits you could bestow Warne and it would only further serve to underline his greatness.

    Understanding such greatness means you can understand why the legacy of Warne lingers.

    And it took until 2017, some ten years after Warne retired, for someone to emerge from the considerable shadow.

    Nathan Lyon, like his predecessors, had the knock on him.

    He couldn’t bowl away from Australia, he had no plan B and crumbled when it mattered.

    Bangladesh and India confirmed a different narrative. Taking a combined 36 wickets across the two separate tours confirmed a bowler who could bowl away from home.

    The improved sidespin which saw Lyon move towards a greater round-arm action, saw Lyon roar on the dustier subcontinent wickets. Before Lyon had struggled in Asia, his action imparted larger quantities of topspin than sidespin on the ball and subcontinent batsmen, the likes of Virat Kohli and co, took Lyon apart.

    Suddenly, with a rejigged action and confidence skyrocketing, Lyon looked at home in Chittagong leading the Australian attack.

    Every ball felt like a hand grenade loaded with the potential of a wicket. Bangladesh, having fought an enthralling contest and been rampant in the first Test, looked lost in their own backyard.

    Without wanting to wax too lyrical, Lyon demonstrated a sense of control and attacking rigour which some, myself included, had never seen from Lyon, especially with the game and the series on the line.

    Many certainly would struggle to name a better performance from a spinner, legspinner or otherwise, delivered in a post-Warne era, perhaps Jason Krejza withstanding.

    Australian bowler Nathan Lyon

    Nathan Lyon (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    In the course of ten days, Lyon has emerged from Warne’s shadow and become a genuine spearhead. And with England on the horizon, he looms as a genuine point of difference upon which Australia can launch its Ashes bid in more comfortable surrounds.

    Should Lyon maintain the form which catapulted him to Australia’s second most successful spinner with 269 wickets, ahead of Richie Benaud and behind the colossuses in Shane Warne, it is hard to imagine if England have a trump card to match him.

    Moeen Ali is a fine cricketer, apt with the bat and commendable with the ball. He owns a fine first class record having taken 288 with 128 coming at Test level. However, the advisable comparison would be closer to Australian enigma Glenn Maxwell, a jack of all trades with the bat and ball and electric in the field and capable of changing a game.

    There is not a true specialist spinner to match Lyon’s class in England’s set up.

    With England’s frail top order featuring a shaky Tom Wesley, Dawid Malan and Mark Stoneman, averaging 20.14, 24.14 and 26.33, Lyon with his new game-plan should eagerly anticipate the Old Enemy’s return.

    And perhaps, when the curtain draws on Nathan Lyon’s career, we will remember Chittagong as the Test a Lyon emerged from Warne’s shadow.

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