Perth: Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon claimed his 500th Test wicket on Sunday to join an exclusive club of just seven others to achieve the feat, with skipper Pat Cummins believing he has another 200 in him.
Australia skittled Pakistan on a treacherous Perth pitch to record a thumping 360-run victory in the first Test inside four days. Pakistan were blown away for 89 all out in 30.2 overs in the final session on Day 4 for its 15th consecutive Test defeat in Australia after the home team set up a daunting 450-run target when it declared its second innings at 233-5 around half an hour after lunch.
“Great start to the summer, everything fell into place,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said at the presentation ceremony. “We’ve played a lot of cricket, so the build-up was very chilled and relaxed. No hiccups this week, it’s all gone to the plan.”
Pakistan’s top-order batters crumbled against the relentless pace of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and captain Pat Cummins on a wicket that had variable bounce with plenty of batters taking body blows.
Hazlewood and Starc snared six wickets between them, while Cummins nicely setup former Pakistan captain Babar Azam (14) before finding the outside edge of his bat as the visitors had no answer to Australia’s nippy fast bowling.
The 36-year-old veteran, whose longevity is partly due to having not played international white-ball cricket since 2019, reached the milestone in his 123rd match.
He began the first Test against Pakistan in Perth on 496 and was left stranded on 499 after their first innings.
But he finally reached 500 on day four by dismissing Faheem Ashraf lbw on review, with his teammates mobbing him in celebration. Lyon then bowled Aamer Jamal in the same over for his 501st.
“It’s something I’m very proud about, I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” said Lyon.
“There’s obviously been a lot of hard work gone into the journey and I’ve had a lot more bad days than good days, but to be back out there in the middle ... it’s pretty special.
“I still pinch myself when I see my name next to those guys,” he said of the exalted company he has joined, including fellow spin kings Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne.
Affectionately known as “Garry” after former Australian rules football player Garry Lyon, he made his debut in 2011 and has best figures of 8-50, collecting 23 five-wicket hauls and 10 wickets four times so far.
He told reporters before the Perth match that he wanted to continue playing at international level until Australia’s next Ashes sojourn to England in 2027.
Lyon would not say how many more wickets he could get, but Cummins suggested he had another 200 in him.
“I still think he’s got 40-50 Test matches,” he said.
“That’s four or five years at 10 a year, probably average what four (wickets) a game, that’s another couple of hundred (wickets) and that’s 700.”
That would move him close to fellow Australian Warne, who has 708 and is second on the all-time list behind Sri Lanka great Muralitharan on 800.
A classical spinner who flights the ball, the right-armer could feasibly catch West Indian great Courtney Walsh (519) during the current three-Test series.
If not, the milestone should be in sight during Australia’s two-Test home showdown with the West Indies that follows later in January.
After that, fellow Australian Glenn McGrath on 563 would be his next target.
English pair Jimmy Anderson (690) and Stuart Broad (604), along with India’s Anil Kumble (619) fill out the 500 club.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that he is probably the most important cog in our bowling line-up,” added Cummins.
“Most games he’s probably bowling 30 overs a day and basically you can just put him down one end, he’s not going to go for many runs, take some wickets, then us quick bowlers can just rotate through the other end.
“As a captain, it makes it lots easier knowing you have a bloke who’s played 100-odd Test matches, who knows his craft and can bowl in pretty much any conditions.”
Long-time teammate Steve Smith echoed those comments before the Perth Test.
“What he brings to the attack and the control and different tempos - he can play defensive roles, he can play an attacking role and he’s got all the tricks,” he said.
“He’s continually learning and trying to get better as well. He’s a valuable - if not the most valuable - member in this team for our attack.”
Eight Test bowlers with 500 Test wickets
800 Muttiah Muralitharan (SRI)
708 Shane Warne (AUS)
690 James Anderson (ENG)
619 Anil Kumble (IND)
604 Stuart Broad (ENG)
563 Glenn McGrath (AUS)
519 Courtney Walsh (WIS)
501 Nathan Lyon (AUS)