Lyon closes on Richie record

Leg­end’s 248 mark un­der threat

Sunday Herald Sun - - Sport -­rayan­ MICHAEL CARAYANNIS

NATHAN Lyon was on the verge of be­ing axed from the Test team two matches ago.

Now he is on the verge of tak­ing over from the late Richie Be­naud as one of the lead­ing wicket-tak­ers in Aus­tralian Test his­tory.

Lyon has jumped to equal 10th on Aus­tralia’s all-time wicket list, join­ing Ray Lind­wall on 228.

Al­ready Aus­tralia’s most suc­cess­ful fin­ger-spin­ner, he will head to In­dia firmly en­trenched as the team’s firstchoice slow bowler and, with a de­cent haul on the sub­con­ti­nent, could over­take Be­naud, who sits in eighth spot with 248 — two ahead of fast bowler Gra­ham McKen­zie.

At 29, and re­turn­ing to his best form, Lyon could surge even fur­ther up list. For­mer pace­man Ja­son Gille­spie (259) also is in his sights.

Leg-spin leg­end Shane Warne is out of ev­ery­one’s reach as Aus­tralia’s lead­ing wicket-taker, with 708.

Lyon over­came a form slump to trig­ger Aus­tralia’s vic­tory in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG with three cru­cial wick­ets in the sec­ond in­nings. He backed that up that with an­other three wick­ets in Pak­istan’s first dig in Syd­ney and two more yes­ter­day to help com­plete Aus­tralia’s clean­sweep of the se­ries.

The only down­side for Lyon yes­ter­day was that his two wick­ets came at a cost of 100 runs, in­clud­ing 20 off his last over as Pak­istan’s wick­et­keeper-bats­man Sar­fraz Ahmed took the long han­dle to him.

Aus­tralian coach Dar­ren Lehman praised Lyon’s re­turn to form.

“I thought Nathan was very good in Melbourne and bril­liant in this Test match,” Lehman said.

“Best he has bowled for a long pe­riod of time. He was ex­cep­tional this game.”

Lehman said Aus­tralia would play two spin­ners in next month’s tour of In­dia. While Lyon’s place is as­sured, his New South Wales team­mate Stephen O’Keefe did his chances no harm with ca­reer best fig­ures of 3-53 off an eco­nom­i­cal 17 overs.

Cap­tain Steve Smith said his spin­ners “did a great job”.

“They spin the ball dif­fer­ent ways so you can use them to cer­tain bat­ters and cer­tain con­di­tions if there is rough and things like that,” Smith said.

“They are dif­fer­ent sort of bowlers. SOK bowls at the stumps but doesn’t spin the ball as much as Nathan does.”

Nathan Lyon cel­e­brates You­nis Khan’s wicket yes­ter­day. Pic­tures: MARK EVANS

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