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Poor wicketkeeping the source of Lyon's early woes

5th January, 2016
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Nathan Lyon celebrates after taking a wicket. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Rookie
5th January, 2016
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The cold hard stats show that Australian spinner Nathan Lyon has taken more Test wickets (182) since his Test debut in 2011 than any other bowler in Australia’s bowling ranks during this period.

This is even more astonishing as it includes Mitchell Johnson’s demolition of England and South Africa during the 2013-14 home-and-away series, in which Johnson reaped over 40 wickets in the two fixtures alone.

For all the spinners that have been used and discarded since the retirement of Shane Warne, Lyon has somehow prevailed

The former selections of Nathan Hauritz and Xavier Doherty, and to a lesser extent Steven O’Keefe, highlight how bowling negative lines and quicker deliveries to batsmen rarely work in the Test match arena.

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On debut in 2011, after being picked from obscurity with minimal first class experience, Nathan Lyon showed his predecessors how bowling an aggressive ball on an attacking line and length, with the assistance of drift and bounce, can reap rewards.

The aim of any bowler is to make a batsman uncomfortable, impatient and most importantly, to play a rash shot under pressure, an art that Lyon excels.

These are skills that Lyon has utilised to a premium, consistently bowing above a batsman’s eye line to confuse his length to lure him into a false stroke, or in Jermaine Blackwood’s case in the current Sydney Test, no stroke at all.

Another poignant factor in Lyon’s emergence and improvement is the ‘drummer’ of the band – the wicket keeper.

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There is no coincidence that in Lyon’s darker days, when he was subsequently dropped twice from the national side, Matthew Wade was Australia’s first choice Test keeper.

With Lyon’s seemingly limited confidence in his keepers ability to read his stock ball, predict his spin, drift and bounce, even with attacking fields, Lyon seemed to be low on confidence and revert to negative, run stemming bowling, which had the opposite effect.

This was an art he is not suited to which, in turn, resulted in limited wickets, lost opportunities and the inability to put the opposing team under pressure and create wicket taking opportunities from both ends.

Lyon’s consistent wicket-taking ability has shown that with an attacking mindset, a captain that understands his craft and sets attacking fields and a keeper that excels in the art of spin bowling with immaculate footwork, even a curator working at Adelaide Oval can become the Greatest [Australian off spinner] Of All Time.

Long live the GOAT.