Lyon closes on Richie record
Legend’s 248 mark under threat
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