Nathan Michael Lyon
November 20, 1987, Young, New South Wales
Right hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
An offspinner whose work as a curator took him from Canberra to Adelaide, Nathan Lyon completed a remarkable rise when he was picked in Australia's Test squad in July 2011. The previous year, he had taken up a job on the Adelaide Oval groundstaff, and his bowling talent was spotted by the Redbacks' Big Bash coach Darren Berry. Lyon impressed in T20s for South Australia, made his first-class debut, and within seven months was a Test cricketer. A classical offspinner who flights the ball and looks for wickets, Lyon struck with his first delivery in Test cricket when he had Kumar Sangakkara caught at slip in Galle. It was part of a haul of 5 for 34 and the beginning of a career that would, for the most part, end Australia's cycle of churning through Test spinners in the post-Warne era. By 2015, Lyon had become Australia's most successful Test offspinner of all time, passing Hugh Trumble's tally of 141 wickets, and he was affectionately nicknamed by his teammates as the GOAT - greatest of all time - as a result.
However, Lyon's career was not without bumps along the way. In 2013 he was dropped from the Test team twice, first in India after he was attacked by MS Dhoni in the first Test in Chennai, and then for the first two Tests of the Ashes tour of England. The Ashes axing was especially galling for Lyon, given that he had taken nine wickets in his previous Test, the fourth and final Test of the Indian tour in Delhi, and he was overlooked for the uncapped teenager Ashton Agar. By the third Test, Lyon was rightfully back in the side and continued to be a consistent performer (as off early 2022 he had not missed another Test). One gap in his game had been the ability to bowl Australia to victory in the fourth innings of a Test, but he finally achieved that against India in Adelaide in 2014-15, in what became his first Player-of-the-Match performance, although it was something that continued to come under occasional scrutiny in following years.
In late 2021, against England at the Gabba, he came just the third Australia to take 400 Test wickets leaving only Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne ahead of him. It was a more fitting moment than the 300th wicket three years earlier against South Africa at Newlands which was largely missed in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal.
Despite first making his name for South Australia in T20, Lyon has generally been considered by the national selectors a Test-only prospect - his limited batting often making him a tricky fit in the eleven. He is an excellent fielder and his direct hit to run out James Vince at the Gabba in 2017-18 Ashes was a key moment on the opening day of the series.
Batting & Fielding