September 3, 2011

Australia in Sri Lanka, 2011

Is Lyon the next Warne?

Akhila Ranganna

A wicket off his first ball in Test cricket and a five-for on debut ... Nathan Lyon has made dream start to Test career but comparisons with spin legend may be a tad early writes Robin Scott-Elliot in the Independent.

There is no shortage of cautionary tales to accompany Lyon to the second Test, chief among them Krejza himself. The off-spinner took eight wickets in his first Test innings three years ago (although he also conceded a record 215 runs). Peter Taylor, the off-spinner who, legend has it, was chosen by accident, took six wickets on his debut against England in 1987 but played only 13 Tests, and that was seven more than Bob Massie, who took 16 wickets on his debut at Lord's in 1972, managed.

Warne's debut was anything but notable, 1 for 150 in his first innings against India. He went wicketless the first time he bowled in Sri Lanka too amid great expectation. For Lyon the expectation will only grow.

The last cricketer to take a wicket with their first ball in Tests was Sri Lanka's Chamila Gamage, and he only played one more Test. Gamage told Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror it was difficult to calm one's nerves enough to make your first ball count, and said he hoped Lyon plays more Tests than he did.

Lyon looks the goods, writes Malcolm Conn in the Daily Telegraph. With his loop, drift, turn and bounce he is more dangerous than left-armer Michael Beer, who played the last Test in Sydney and is on this tour. And unlike the many who have come before him recently, Lyon may be with us for some time, but don't expect miracles or another Warne-style record-breaking career.

Lyon's dream was to become head curator at the Adelaide Oval. Just months ago he was dreaming of growing grass in Adelaide, but now he is raising dust and hell in the shadow of the Galle fort, bamboozling some of the world's most experienced players of spin bowling. Peter Lalor in the Australian tracks Lyon's journey.

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Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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