In September 2011, Australia and Sri Lanka were playing out time in a Colombo draw that would seal a rare subcontinental series victory for the tourists in Michael Clarke's first series as captain.

Following Clarke's hundred that day to make the match safe, there was only time for two overs at the Sri Lankan batsmen. Trent Copeland took the new ball at one end and at the other Clarke gave Nathan Lyon the chance to feel the new cherry spin out of his fingers for the first time in a Test. The over was nondescript, but it was an experience, one of many Lyon would accumulate as he learned his spin bowling game on the job after the most minimal of first-class apprenticeships.

Four years on and Clarke tossed the ball to Lyon in only the sixth over at Sabina Park. The Dukes logo and lettering were still visible on a projectile that commonly would have remained in the hands of pacemen for a while yet, but Lyon took on the task with all the relish of a confident and successful operator. Immediately he took advantage of the extra bounce and pace the ball afforded him, spinning past Darren Bravo in the midst of a tidy maiden.

Next over, another big offbreak eluded Bravo's groping blade. Both these deliveries had been witnessed by Kraigg Brathwaite at the non-striker's end, and when a single brought him on strike, Lyon used overspin to slide past the outside edge and into off stump - a beautiful piece of subtle variation. It was a suitably artful way to take Lyon past Hugh Trumble as Australia's most prolific offspin bowler, at an age when he should only get better.

Lyon's story has been one of persistence. While it is true that he was fast-tracked into the Test team as one of the last acts of Andrew Hilditch's harried selection panel, it must also be said that Lyon's offbreaks were hardly a state secret guarded by the diplomatic corps in Canberra, where he combined club and second XI cricket for the ACT with a job on the ground staff.

It took the faith of several men, notably the ACT coach Mark Higgs, then Redbacks coach Darren Berry, the national talent manager Greg Chappell and the spin bowling coach John Davison to grant Lyon the opportunity of a wider audience. His flight, spin and character were all in evidence as he graduated swiftly from South Australia to Australia A to the Test team, though it was acknowledged that he would have a long road ahead once he got there. A trail of broken dreams had been left by the 10 other spinners tried to fill the gulf left by Shane Warne in 2007.

The path from a memorable debut in Galle - Kumar Sangakkara spun out with his very first ball, no less - to the Caribbean was far from smooth, taking in several periods of technical trouble and debates over Lyon's best role. In late 2012 the softly-spoken Lyon complained of how difficult it was to adjust from nobody knowing his name to everyone offering advice, from former greats like Ashley Mallett to the left-arm "spinner" Mitchell Johnson.

He was dropped from the team twice in 2013, first for Xavier Doherty in India after a mauling from MS Dhoni, then for the shooting star of Ashton Agar in England. Lyon handled all this with impressive equanimity. He remained unwaveringly committed to the team values espoused by Michael Hussey, who had first mentored him in Sri Lanka and later bequeathed him the team song.

Equally, Lyon was finding himself as a bowler, striking a balance between the search for that perfect, wicket-taking ball and the consistency required to entrap batsmen over periods of several overs or more. His relationship with Davison was key to all this, as the former Victoria, South Australia and Canada tweaker offered a trusted conduit between Lyon and the counsel being offered by many others.

Clarke, too, deserved credit for being the kind of captain sympathetic to the ear of a spin bowler. He encouraged Lyon to attack the batsmen, and gave him fields that not only made scoring difficult but also teased out wickets. Last but not least, Clarke served as the very best of slip fielders, clasping a succession of chances that others would have struggled to reach, let alone hold.

If there was one area Lyon struggled to master it was the requisite combination of carrot and stick to excel in the fourth innings of a Test match. In a team synonymous with pace, his sense of a holding, pressure-building commission often stayed with him too late in matches, when he needed to be teasing and attacking batsmen compelled to defend. In Adelaide and Hobart in 2012, then Cape Town in 2014, Lyon was a frustrated figure.

But catharsis arrived at Adelaide Oval last year, when on the final afternoon Lyon spun through India to clinch a match that meant so much in the weeks after Phillip Hughes' death. That display seemed finally to cement Lyon's place in the team in both the eyes of Australian cricket watchers but also those of the man himself - he sang the song extra loud that night.

Now Lyon has passed Trumble, not to mention Mallett, Bruce Yardley, Ian Johnson, Tim May, Nathan Hauritz, Greg Matthews and others, and it is a moment to pause and appreciate his value. There was a providential nod to Lyon later on day two as Australia swarmed over the West Indies, Shai Hope's outside edge lodging between the thighs of a slightly sheepish Brad Haddin, who along with Clarke has been a major help to Lyon's development.

For much of his career thus far, Lyon seemed to be labouring in the absence of good fortune, as edges and pads eluded him. This wicket may mark the start of another phase, as he sets out after loftier wicket tallies: the era of Lyon's luck.