They usually say the greats come every once in a lifetime. In the different eras of cricket, we would see certain players dominate. Sir Donald Bradman, Dennis Lillee, Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne are just a few of the legendary names that have excelled in the different forms of cricket and that has allowed Australia to become one of the greatest cricket teams in the world. The new generation of cricketers have grown up with a more aggressive form of cricket in the form of 20 over limited matches. Batsmen are becoming more sluggers and bowlers need to be more strategic. Comparing the players of today to the players of yesteryear is like comparing apples to oranges. The forms of the game are completely different. To suggest that a player from this era is the greatest of all time is a big call, but can be somewhat unfair to historical cricketers.
Fast forward to the issues with today’s Australian team. Australian test spinner Nathan Lyon is a formidable player in his own right, but has been nicknamed with the acronym G.O.A.T (Greatest of all time) that flirts between recognising his skill and giving him disdain. There have been several incredible spinners in the sport. Nathan Lyon is great in his own right, but the question that lingers over his head is will he forge his own legendary status compared to greats that have gone before him. Punters will be eager to place bets on his upcoming T20 world cup performance, should his statistics continue at its current rate. However, selectors seem to vent their frustration at him as if he is playing his own horn. When a player is statistically proven to get results, it is bizarre when they aren’t considered at all. Instead of being considered as the potential greatest off-spinner that Australia has ever had, he is portrayed as a scapegoat. Below is an overview of Nathan compared to other greats in the game.
Nathan Lyon – The Facts!
The story of Nathan Lyon sounds as if it is a cricketing fairytale. He climbed the ranks from an apprentice groundsman to become Australia’s most prolific off-spinner, surpassing previous record holder Hugh Tremble’s 141 wickets in 2015. Statistically, Nathan Lyon is predicted to be Australia’s best ever off-spinner and proved his worth by taking nine wickets in India just before the Australian tour of England. However, he was dropped by the selectors in favour of young blood.
One of his most prolific moments was his first wicket from his first ball in his first test match, finishing the game with a five-wicket haul at a cost of only 34 runs. His career statistics currently
have him with 182 test match wickets and 11 one day international wickets.
You can see highlights of 100 of his wickets in the tribute video below.
Although he has become the greatest Australian off spinner, could he surpass the likes of Shane Warne?
The two cannot be compared like for like. Shane Warne started his international career for Australia at the tender age of 23, whereas Nathan Lyon received his opportunity at the ripe old age of 27. While it isn’t too late for Nathan to challenge Warnie’s ‘spin king’ title, he is on the back foot significantly if he wants to have any chance of breaking Shane Warne’s record, in which he took over 700 test match wickets and just under 300 in one-day internationals.
Interesting comparisons between the two include their legendary first ball deliveries in their debut test matches. Shane Warne rose to fame after his legendary first ball to Mike Gatting. You can see 8 of Shane Warne’s best deliveries in the video below.
It’s difficult to say whether or not Nathan Lyon will become the greatest of all time. In a sense, it is the truth in jest. For now, he can only keep on playing and let his statistics do the talking, and any other bull-wash can keep on walking.