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Out of Warne’s shadow, a Lyon emerges

Adam Daunt Roar Pro

By Adam Daunt, 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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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • September 9th 2017 @ 8:56am
      dangertroy said | September 9th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Apart from Krejza’s 8 for, the only standouts I can think of were Marcus Norths 6 wickets against Pakistan at Lords and Michael Clarke also took a 5 for against the west indies – His infamous 6 for 9 was during the Warne years. Both of these stick in the mind as they were part timers who ran through a side.
      Krejza’s 8 came at a cost of 215 runs, he ended with 12 for almost 350. Lyons 8 for only cost 50 runs – and he went for 2 and bit per over. It’s the economy rate that really impresses – no point taking lots of wickets if your going to concede a lot of runs and do it quickly.

    • September 9th 2017 @ 11:56am
      Tanmoy Kar said | September 9th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

      Lyon is the best available spinners in Australia at present, he is likely to end up with 500+ wickets in Test matches by the end of his career.

    • September 9th 2017 @ 1:50pm
      AGordon said | September 9th 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

      Lyon has bowled outstandingly well in the past 6-8 months and it is fair to say he has “come of age” as a world class spinner. I become nervous though when he is referred to as a “spearhead” of an attack because I think that puts unnecessary pressure on the guy.

      He has assumed that role successfully in the sub-continent but the Ashes will see whether that tag is justified, remembering the pitches he is likely to face will force him to change his bowling style again.

      If pitches offer him any assistance, he can now be classed as a genuine match winner, more than capable of taking a swag of wickets. Other than that though, I’m sure he’d be happy to be simply known as an important member of the Australian attack.

    • September 9th 2017 @ 2:19pm
      Mike Dugg said | September 9th 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

      I hope this is start of a new phase in his career where Lyon is consistent year round rather than patches here and there. He was very poor last summer. It’ll be interesting to see how he goes in the ashes

      • September 10th 2017 @ 8:00pm
        John Erichsen said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

        Yes, I agree with the importance of this summer for Lyon. He has finally, for more than a spell here or there, posed a threat for opposition batsmen. Nobody should expect him to rip through teams on Australian pitches the way he did in Bangladesh, but I am hopeful he can bowl with the same confidence and control during the Ashes.

    • September 11th 2017 @ 8:00pm
      John Erichsen said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

      Lyon had a good series in India, on spin-friendly (read doctored) pitches and now has, on similar pitches, had a fantastic series in Bangladesh. Do we really think Lyon is a spearhead heading into the Ashes on home soil? Sorry, but I need more proof than one great two-test series against Bangladesh before I consider him a real threat to the English batting line-up. Ashley Mallett had an amazing single series in India, taking 28 wickets at 19, yet i never heard him being touted as a spearhead during the Aussie summers. Even in the ’74-’75 Ashes where he took 17 wickets at 19.94, he wasn’t a spearhead. That was Lillee 25 wickets and Thommo(33 wickets as I recall. I doubt it will be different this summer. Starc and Cummins will be the Aussie spearheads and Lyon will be our test spinner. I sure hope his stellar series sets him up to far more effective than he was last summer. 6 wickets for 346 against South Africa and 11 for 502 against Pakistan hardly suggest Lyon is a Warne-like threat in Australia. Fingers crossed this series was his career defining moment. Lyon’s 19 wickets in the last home Ashes series, albeit against a bruised and battered opposition (thanks MJ) would be great, if replicated.

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