Lyon’s spin on Ash­ton cameo

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - BEN HORNE

AUS­TRALIA’S great­est ever off- spin­ner Nathan Lyon has opened up for the first time about what it was like to be on the re­ceiv­ing end of Ash­ton Agar – one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary se­lec­tion bomb­shells of all time – and how it’s mo­ti­vat­ing him for his latest shot at Ashes glory.

Lyon ad­mits the Agar fairy­tale that shocked and cap­ti­vated the na­tion last tour in fact knocked his own con­fi­dence for six, af­ter he was dumped for the se­ries opener at Trent Bridge to make way.

Now he re­turns to Eng­land as the lead­ing wick­et­tak­ing offie the coun­try has ever seen, and this time the only freak of na­ture ca­pa­ble of stop­ping him is if there’s so much grass on the Cardiff wicket that se­lec­tors take an un­likely punt on an all- out pace at­tack.

Lyon reck­ons he once hit a six so far at The Harare Sports Club in Zim­babwe that “Bob­bie Mu­gabe thought his palace was un­der at­tack”.

But even so, Lyon doubts there’s an Agar- es­que 98 in Aus­tralia’s No. 11 this time around – his fo­cus purely on the English bats­man he knows are com­ing to get him.

Head­ing into the 2013 Ashes, Lyon had ev­ery rea­son to feel al­most as es­tab­lished as he does now.

Mod­est, lik­able and self­less to a fault, he had just taken over as the cus­to­dian of the sa­cred team song, and on the field he was in tune as well, com­ing off ca­reer- best fig­ures of 7- 94 in the last­start fourth Test against In­dia in Delhi.

But on Ashes eve, Lyon was told that a 19- year- old left- armer from Perth – with fleet­ing first- class ex­pe­ri­ence and who had only been called into the squad at the eleventh hour – was get­ting the nod. Lyon was shat­tered. “It cer­tainly does knock you down a cou­ple of steps,” Lyon said.

“I was full of con­fi­dence and then to have Ash brought into the squad, I wasn’t overly fazed by it.

“On a per­sonal ba­sis it was pretty dis­ap­point­ing.

“I was able to get a crack there ( by the third Test) but we weren’t able to get the job done.

“It wasn’t one of the finest mo­ments in my ca­reer, but that’s pro­fes­sional sport. You have your ups and downs, it’s about how you bounce back.

“There’s a lot of fire burn­ing in my belly to get the job done this time es­pe­cially with 14 years over here with­out a win.

“I was con­fi­dent enough to make sure I did all the hard work to get another op­por­tu­nity and lucky enough that came along.”

Con­tro­ver­sially omit­ted from the World Cup squad in favour of Xavier Do­herty dur­ing the last sum­mer, Lyon won’t ex­pand on his emo­tions any more than to say he was “dis­ap­pointed”. It’s just not his style. Lyon is a rare breed mod­ern crick­eter who looks like he goes about his game in the Test arena with the same at­ti­tude he did when he was play­ing grade in the park with his mates in Can­berra.

It’s what’s al­lowed him to brush off Shane Warne re­lated pres­sures and Agar and World Cup set­backs to break Hugh Tr u m b l e ’ s 11 1 - y e a r - o l d of f - s p i n n i n g record.

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Graeme Swann has al­ready pre­dicted Lyon is go­ing to be taken on by Eng­land’s bats­men this se­ries – and if fig­ures of 0- 136 in the first in­nings of Aus­tralia’s last tour game against Es­sex are any­thing to go by – the writ­ing is on the wall.

Lyon’s re­ac­tion is what you might ex­pect from him. “I hope they do ( come at me),” he said.

Pic­ture: AFP PHOTO/ ROBYN BECK

FIRE IN BELLY: Nathan Lyon shares his dis­ap­point­ment at be­ing left out for Ash­ton Agar in the first two Tests of the last Ashes se­ries in Eng­land.

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