Lyon’s spin on Ashton cameo
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.
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.
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.