Skillful Lyon has more to offer, says Vettori

Published July 4, 2022
A file photo of Australian spinner Nathan Lyon. — Reuters/File
A file photo of Australian spinner Nathan Lyon. — Reuters/File

GALLE: Australia’s assistant coach Daniel Vettori on Sunday said Nathan Lyon’s ability to combine spin with bounce makes him a lethal weapon on turning pitches — and for years to come.

The 34-year-old Lyon towered above the Sri Lankan spinners in the team’s thrashing of the hosts in the recent opening Test in Galle to return with match figures of 9-121.

The performance took Lyon into the top 10 leading wicket-takers of all time with 436 wickets in 109 Tests.

New Zealand spin great Vettori, who joined Australia’s support staff full-time ahead of the two-match series, said it was more about conversing with the off-spinner than coaching him.

“It’s a tactical conversation. Nathan has seen everything in world cricket. To be a finger spinner and be in the top 10 wicket-takers in the world is incredible,” Vettori told reporters.

“Albeit the majority of the time it is down to his skill level. The ability to be successful with that much turn and bounce.” Vettori said, “And then you see the development of that bowler, to read conditions, to add things to his armoury and a desire to just keep wanting to get better.

“He has a number of years left in him, so he can climb up that table even further.”

Lyon, along with fellow spinners Mitchell Swepson and Travis Head bundled out Sri Lanka twice for 212 and 113 to bring victory in just over two days and lead the series 1-0.

Australian batters also stepped up their game to counter the spin with an effective sweep shot as Cameron Green (77), Usman Khawaja (71) and wicketkeeper/batter Alex Carey (45) contributed to the team’s first innings total of 321.

Sri Lankan batters faltered on home turf and Vettori said using the sweep against Lyon will always be a challenge.

“Batters who sweep are always very difficult to bowl to. They ask different questions of you as a bowler,” said Vettori.

“That is where Nathan is so successful. He is consistent and he gets so much spin and bounce that we all know they sweep is a good option but it is a challenge against someone of his quality.”

Lyon, who struggled in Australia’s 3-0 whitewash in Sri Lanka in 2016 when home spinner Rangana Herath bagged 28 wickets, has become a force to reckon in sub-continent conditions over the years.

Vettori, who took 362 Test wickets as a left-arm spinner in his 18-year-old glittering international career as a player and captain, said Lyon is always looking to improve.

“His stock ball is so amazing, sometimes for him that is good enough,” said the 43-year-old Vettori.

“But for his development, he is looking to bring variations in. Different balls, over and around the wicket. He is very receptive to all information.”

The second and final match starts Friday at the same venue.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2022

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