NATHAN Lyon is on the verge of becoming Australia’s most prolific spin-bowling wicket-taker behind the great Shane Warne, but he’ll never struggle with the burden of fame.
Nicknamed the GOAT by teammates because of his status as Australia’s greatest ever off spinner – based on the number of wickets taken, at least – Lyon could easily let his head swell with the accolades.
After a successful personal tour of India, in which he took 19 wickets as Australia suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 series defeat, Lyon has jumped to ninth on Australia’s all-time wicket-takers list.
With one more wicket he’ll draw level with Test legend Richie Benaud on 248 wickets. Ahead of him will be Warne, on 708 wickets, and then fast bowlers Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Craig McDermott and Jason Gillespie.
It will be an extraordinary achievement for a player who has spent his entire Australian career in the spotlight of an adoring public.
But the down-to-earth country kid has two figures in his life which will never let him get too far ahead of himself: “Mother Cricket” and his old man, Steven.
It was Steven who Nathan Lyon called first after finding out he’d been called up to the South Australian Twenty20 squad in 2011, his first match at state level in any format.
At the time, Lyon was working as a greenkeeper at the Adelaide Oval and was desperate to crack the next level – and South Australian coach Darren Berry had given him the good news. He’d made it, and he couldn’t wait to tell his dad.
“I remember that phone call and calling Dad and saying ‘Dad I’m going to get a South Australian tracksuit, how good’s this?’” Lyon told FoxSportsNews500’s Adam Peacock in an interview which will air on Good Friday.
“And Dad said ‘yeah it’ll be good, you’ll learn something but you’ll be back working on the groundstaff before you know it so don’t get your hopes up.’”
He got more than the one game, and soon after he was a fixture in the Redbacks’ T20, one-day and Sheffield Shield teams.
Four first-class games later and he was on Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka, leading to his next emotional phone call with dad Steve.
“(On-tour selector) Greg Chappell and (skipper) Michael Clarke called me in Galle, Sri Lanka, two days before the Test match … and said ‘you’re going to play your first Test match for Australia here and we’re only taking one spinner in – you’re it’,” Lyon recalled.
“I remember being taken aback by that obviously, as a 23-year-old who has played four Shield games. ‘Righto, this is it, see how we go – I’ve got nothing to lose.’
“(After) getting back to the hotel, I called Dad straight away. ‘Dad, I’m going to play the first Test against Sri Lanka’. Dad’s words were ‘yep, that’s good, I guess you’ll play one game’.”
Last month, Lyon enjoyed a personal highlight in the second Test against India in Bengaluru, taking a career-best eight-wicket haul.
But this time it wasn’t his dad who brought him back down to earth.
“There’s Mother Cricket, who always bites you on the backside before you know it,” he said.
“That’s one thing my parents have always drilled into me about making sure I keep my feet on the ground, and that the wheel can turn very quickly.
“And as we saw the wheel spun very quickly – I took none in the second innings. I never thought I’d take eight in a game and (all eight coming) in one innings.”
Lyon also opens up on the prevailing feeling within Australian cricket that “what happens on the field should stay on the field” and what his reaction would be if combustible Indian skipper Virat Kohli walked into his local.
Catch the full interview on FoxSportsNews500.
SOURCE: newsnow sport