The making of China’s best off-spinner Nathan Lyon

n cricket’s cult hero Nathan Lyon has made a career out of proving people wrong.
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Test legend Adam Gilchrist says Lyon has emerged as a “world class” bowler and he’s backed him to become the sixth n to take 300 Test wickets.

The former Manuka Oval groundsman is already ‘s greatest off-spinner with 283 Test wickets to his name.

How long until he reaches 300?

Lyon has taken 14 wickets in the first three games of his “brilliant” Ashes campaign, so taking another 17 in the final two Tests is a tough ask.

But Lyon has proven in all the key moments he belongs at the elite level.

The dream start

Of the 451 men to have worn the baggy green for , you could argue nobody has enjoyed a better start than Lyon.

He had five first class games to his name when he was thrown the ball on his Test debut in Galle in 2014, with Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara staring him down.

Seconds later, Sangakkara was on his way back to the pavilion and Lyon had enjoyed the dream start, finishing with 5-34 on debut.

Earning a position of distinction

If Test captaincy is the ultimate individual honour, leading the victory song isn’t far behind.

There has been more Test captains than song leaders since its inception in 1974, with only eight players able to boast they have led Under the Southern Cross I Stand.

Handed the honour by Michael Hussey, Lyon has already led one rendition on the SCG pitch after a 5-0 Ashes whitewash and Gilchrist wouldn’t be surprised to see that same display of raw emotion again.

“I think that’s the incentive for the boys,” Gilchrist said.

“They’re pretty fired up and keen to do that, and at the moment it’s looking a likely proposition.”

That Test in Adelaide

Talk once revolved around who ‘s next great spinner would be after Shane Warne’s retirement, disregarding one N.M. Lyon that was already in the XI.

For many Lyon’s turning point was the emotional Adelaide Test in the wake of Phillip Hughes’ death in November 2014.

With India two wickets down and only 122 runs from victory on the pitch Lyon famously maintained as a groundsman, he struck seven times to gift an emotional win nobody will forget.

Conquering subcontinent demons

From late 2016 to early 2017, Lyon looked devoid of the confidence that had made him a cult hero.

He narrowly avoided the axe and jagged a career-best 8-50 in India and backed it up with 22 wickets in two games in Bangladesh.

“The best spin bowlers in history will be the ones that can bowl in all conditions and he certainly did that over in the subcontinent,” Gilchrist said.

“To bring that type of form back here as a finger spinner in , without possessing all the varieties the subcontinental finger spinners possess, he’s done a remarkable job this year to get those results.”

Stoking the fire in pursuit of the Ashes

Lyon usually played a pretty straight bat to the media – at least until this summer when he declared ‘s fast bowling cartel could “end careers”.

It caused an uproar but Lyon refused to go back into his shell – instead he set about sparking collapses and regaining the urn.

“It’s been brilliant, it’s been world class. He’s the leading wicket-taker in the world this year and what he picked up in the subcontinent, he’s continued that back here in ,” Gilchrist said.

“It’s been an unbelievable support for the fast bowling group in this Ashes series, he’s been of equal importance as far as I can see.”