Abu Dhabi: All that off-spinner Nathan Lyon managed during Australia’s last tour to the UAE was just three wickets from the two Tests at a forgettable average of 140.66. Pakistan made a 2-0 clean sweep in that 2014 series.
Four years down the line, Lyon is a completely different bowler and has clearly mastered the art of bowling on subcontinent wickets.
His four wickets off six deliveries have helped him leapfrog into fourth spot on Australia’s top Test wicket-takers’ list, with 314 wickets.
“It was actually a nice wicket to bowl on early. It felt the spikes were going in early even before the toss. We said, ‘it won’t be that bad of a thing if we can use the new ball if we do bowl first’,” said the 31-year-old, whose four wickets in six deliveries to left Pakistan struggling at 57 for five at one stage in the series-deciding second Test.
“I felt like there was a little bit of tackiness in the wicket in the first session and we were fortunate enough that we were able to exploit that as well. I think it will be a good Test match wicket and it’s up to us to play some decent cricket to make it a good Test wicket,” said Lyon, whose victims were Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam.
Lyon has now surpassed Brett Lee (313 wkts) and Mitchell Johnson (310 wkts). Spin legend Shane Warne occupies the top spot with 708 wickets, followed by Glenn McGrath on second with 568 wickets and Dennis Lillee third with 355.
“I’ve never been one for personal success and personal goals or at least talking about them. But it’s a massive honour to pass the likes of Lee and Johnson today. I have played a lot of cricket with Mitch and he’s been like a big brother to me, so I know there will be a bit of banter back and forth tonight and a few text messages and stuff. So I look forward to that,” said Lyon, adding that he is very fortunate to have played 80 Test matches for Australia and to be in this position.
“It’s something I will look back [on] when I retire from the game and sit back with family and friends and talk about it. I know my mum and dad will be pretty proud. But, right now it’s about me doing my best for the Australian cricket team and winning Test matches for Australia,” said Lyon.
“I’ve figured out a way to bowl on the subcontinent. If I’m being honest, I think we’re in a better place than we were four years ago. Our tactics here on our second tour in UAE, I think it’s better than what it was.”