Nathan Lyon, a former groundskeeper with less than three years of playing for Australia, has showed all the class of a veteran test bowler to give Australia a shot at a fourth straight Ashes win.
The previously overlooked offspinner was hailed by Australian cricket greats including Mark Waugh after he dominated England on Saturday with a five-wicket haul – including his 100th Test dismissal.
I'm pretty proud of the achievement today, but I don't get the results I got today without the help of the fellow teammates.
The 24-year-old claimed the vital wickets of Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Ben Stokes, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad to reach the milestones in his 29th Test and prove he belongs in an Australian side that has been less than sure it needed him over the years.
Waugh said Lyon’s performance ensured he had cemented a long-term spot in the Test line-up.
“He’s clearly the best spinner in Australia, he keeps improving every year and he’s a quick learner,” Waugh told Australian newspaper The Canberra Times.
“He’s got a great temperament and all the aspects to be a long-term prospect in the Australian side.”
Lyon has been discarded several times over the past few years as Australia tried other spinning options, making Saturday’s achievements all the sweeter.
“Not sure if it’s sunk in yet with the whole emotion of the Ashes Test match,” said Lyon, who became just the sixth Australian offspinner to take 100 wickets. “It’s still riding pretty high. I’m pretty proud of the achievement today, but I don’t get the results I got today without the help of the fellow teammates.”
“It seemed like a long way away when I first started but lucky enough to get there and no one can take them off me.”
Lyon has 13 wickets so far this series, which Australia clinched to regain the Ashes with three consecutive wins.
The Australians need a further 201 runs in the final innings with all 10 wickets in hand and two days to play to win the fourth Test at Melbourne, but after managing just 204 in their first innings, a win is no certainty.
“We’re definitely confident we can get the job done, but we know it’s going to be a tough challenge,” Lyon said.
“We know how well England bowled in the first innings and we know we have to come out and play well, have good intent with the bat and be patient.
“When the ball gets 30 overs old it’s going to be quite hard with the reverse swing and the skill of Jimmy Anderson. It’s going to be a tough job and a tough chase, so fingers crossed, we’ll see how we go.'”