In 2011, Nathan Lyon was the curator at the Adelaide Oval Ground No 2. Six months later, he was playing Test cricket for Australia. Lyon's giant leap from a groundsman to the leading off-spinner is one of the remarkable stories in cricket. Eighty-six Test matches later, he is fourth on Australia's leading wicket-taker list and the most successful off-spinner the country has produced.
Lyon is regarded as one of the finest slow bowlers in Test cricket for a while now, but the onus is still on him to prove himself in the 50-over format. Lyon's figures are quite modest, he has taken 26 wickets in 25 matches with a strike-rate of 54.6 and just one four-wicket haul.
It is the change of mindset under Justin Langer that has offered Lyon another lifeline. The impact of spinners in the limited overs format prompted Langer to try Lyon in the past six months. To be fair, his performances have been standard. Australia believes that against a team with plenty of left-handers, Lyon can be a real threat and hence they needed an off-spinning option in the 15-man- squad.
Lyon is a single dimensional off-spinner. He is in the old classical mould that looks to defeat the batsman in flight and bounce. On pitches that offer turn or bounce, he looms as a big threat, but on benign surfaces, the lack of variation makes him easy prey.
One aspect in Lyon's favour is his ability to build pressure on the batsmen. In the past 11 ODIs, he's economy of 4.79, ranks in the top 10 in 2019. Adam Zampa will be the first spinner on the team sheet, but Lyon's pressure building in the middle-overs and economical bowling is thought to be a key factor to Zampa and Australia's success.
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