For some reason I’ve always thought Nathan Lyon was French.
Maybe it was the surname that put me off. Maybe it is his close resemblance to any American blockbuster action movie’s antagonist, who is for some reason is always European.
But it turns out that dearly beloved Garry is and has never been a French national, just an Aussie through and through.
I should’ve guessed for his love of cricket.
He burst onto the scene by taking a wicket with his first ball – a promising sign for the selectors – and since then hasn’t stopped taking wickets.
Lyon is one of those spinners you not only select in your Test squad when travelling to Asia but the first name you put in the XI no matter where you’re playing. His main attribute obviously is turning the ball, but he embodies what the baggy green is all about – fight.
Whether he’s batting at 11, fielding fine leg or carrying the bottles around the ground, he always has a distinctive look on his face. It’s the face of a fighter. Not a moment goes by without him thinking about his next move.
We all know he’s not a specialist white-ball bowler and isn’t selected very often to play for the ODI and T20 sides, but that’s okay. Garry doesn’t possess a killer arm ball or a mind-boggling doosra, but he has one thing that makes him the best Test spinner in the world, and that’s persistence.
Persistence is one of the main factors in making a great Test cricketer. Young kids are more likely to watch the BBL than a Boxing Day Test match – long-form cricket, after all, is boring when there aren’t sixes flying off the bat or stumps cartwheeling in Test cricket. You have to stay patient with bat and ball to reap your rewards, and the longer you’re patient, the greater your return will be.
There is nothing flashy about Test cricket – and there’s nothing flashy about Nathan Lyon. No side tricks or fancy hairstyles. He calls a spade a spade and gets on with it. He’s a man of simple philosophy: never give up.
I can recall watching The Test and seeing Nathan Lyon squandering a run-out chance to get the last wicket Australia needed to retain the Ashes of 2019. He was gutted but immediately picked himself up and bowled the perfect delivery to Ben Stokes, striking him on the pad. The appeal was given not out despite close examination showing that Stokes should have been dismissed. Australia would have reviewed it had Tim Paine now blown his last review on a worthless LBW shout moments before.
It just shows that no matter the obstacles, Garry finds a way.
To have the ability to bite down on your teeth and grind your way to wickets is what makes a skilful bowler, and in Test cricket and Lyon certainly carries that with him where ever he goes.