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Former Australia Skipper Mark Taylor on Nathan Lyon: ‘It Wouldn’t Surprise Me If He Gets Up Towards 40’

SportsFormer Australia Skipper Mark Taylor on Nathan Lyon: 'It Wouldn't Surprise Me If He Gets Up Towards 40'

Mark Taylor: In the first Test at Perth against Pakistan, Lyon, who made his Test debut in 2011, became the third Australian and eighth bowler overall to take more than 500 Test wickets. Lyon had previously talked about his wish to continue till 2027 Ashes in England, and by then he will be 39.

Former Australia captain Mark Taylor said he is confident veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon could play Test cricket into his 40s, adding that it shouldn’t be a surprise if the same happens in future.

“That wouldn’t surprise me to be totally honest because he’s still very keen and I spoke to him only recently and he talked about maybe going back to England. That’s 2027, the best part of three and a half years away.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets up towards 40 if he’s still enjoying it and taking wicket. I don’t see him giving it up in a hurry,” said Taylor to Wide World of Sports.

With 501 wickets in 123 games, Lyon currently sits eighth on the all-time list of most Test wickets taken, behind Muthiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708), James Anderson (690), Anil Kumble (619), Stuart Broad (604), Glenn McGrath (563), and Courtney Walsh (519).

“I don’t like saying things about history because it’s so different now. The guys of today and even my era, we played so many more games. If you say the number two in history, it means you’re forgetting about people like O’Reilly and Grimmett and some of those names from yesteryear who didn’t have the opportunity to play 123 test matches.”

“Obviously you’re eluding to the fact that Warnie would be number one, but once again, Warnie was number one because yes, he was a great spinner, but also he was able to play a lot more test matches. I don’t like ranking guys over the history of the game because it’s too far,” added Taylor on where he would rank Lyon as a bowler in Test cricket

The second Test between Australia and Pakistan will begin on December 26, which is the Boxing Day, at the MCG. Australia have a 1-0 lead in the three-game series, after thrashing Pakistan by 360 runs in the series opener at Perth.

Why it’s too difficult for Mark Taylor to label Nathan Lyon Australia’s best behind Shane Warne

Nathan Lyon’s status as one of Australia’s greatest spin bowlers of all-time is unquestioned.

Exactly where he stands is up for debate, however.

For Wide World of Sports commentator and former Test captain Mark Taylor, the thought of ranking Lyon is too difficult.

On sheer numbers of wickets alone, few would dispute that Shane Warne is Australia’s bona fide GOAT.

However, the second rung on that ladder is up for debate.

Taylor spoke with Wide World of Sports, who said it’s difficult and unfair to compare Lyon to the likes of Bill O’Reilly or Clarrie Grimmett by way of example.

Lyon currently sits eighth on the all-time most wickets taken ladder behind Muthiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708), James Anderson (690), Anil Kumble (619), Stuart Broad (604), Glenn McGrath (563), and Courtney Walsh (519). 

Grimmett, by contrast, sits 74th on that list with 216 wickets but only played 37 Tests while O’Reilly played just 27 matches and took 144 wickets.

They averaged 24.21 and 22.59 respectively while Lyon currently averages 30.85.

Ultimately, the difference between generations is too big a factor for Taylor to definitively say where Lyon sits. 

“I don’t like saying things about history because it’s so different now. The guys of today and even my era, we played so many more games,” said Taylor.

“If you say the number two in history, it means you’re forgetting about people like O’Reilly and Grimmett and some of those names from yesteryear who didn’t have the opportunity to play 123 test matches.

The eight Test bowlers with 500 Test wickets

This is how the 36-year-old’s record compares with the other members of the elite club: (wickets, player, team, matches, best bowling in an innings, best bowling in a match, average, five wickets in an innings, 10 wickets in a match):

  • 800 Muttiah Muralitharan (SRI) 133 9-51 16-220 22.72 67 22
  • 708 Shane Warne (AUS) 145 8-71 12-128 25.41 37 10
  • 690 James Anderson (ENG) 183 7-42 11-71 26.42 32 3
  • 619 Anil Kumble (IND) 132 10-74 14-149 29.65 35 8
  • 604 Stuart Broad (ENG) 167 8-15 11-21 27.68 20 3
  • 563 Glenn McGrath (AUS) 124 8-24 10-27 21.64 29 3
  • 519 Courtney Walsh (WIS) 132 7-37 13-55 24.44 22 3
  • 501 Nathan Lyon (AUS) 123 8-50 13-154 31.00 23 4

Lyon’s spin mentor predicts best still to come: He’ll keep getting better’

John Davison has worked with Nathan Lyon since his youth and says his 500th Test wicket can spur him on still further
“He’s got country boy hands, strong fingers, the ball looks completely at home in them,” says John Davison, aka the Spin Whisperer, the satisfaction in his Queensland burr plain to hear.

“It’s testament to his action and the work he’s put in over the years, he doesn’t put too much strain on his back or his knee, he could go on for ever,” he says with a chuckle. It’s a statement that will terrify batters the world over and have the great bowlers of the game twitchily looking over their shoulders. Nathan Lyon has just chalked up his 500th (and 501st) Test wicket and doesn’t look like stopping any time soon.

Nathan Lyon accepts the applause of teammates and spectators after taking his 500th Test wicket during the first Test against Pakistan at Perth Stadium.

Lyon’s backstory and standing within the game will be pored over in the next few days and weeks. The landmark wicket of Pakistan’s Faheem Ashraf in Perth, pinned lbw in classic Lyon fashion, will inevitably lead to talk of his origins and his future.

It’s some story. Lyon is a shy country kid from the town of Young in the South Western Slopes – “The Cherry Capital of Australia”. From playing against his brother, Brendan, in the back yard, his journey has led him to take on adults twice his size in club matches, moving as a teenager to play representative cricket in Canberra, and then on to Adelaide and an oft-mentioned stint carrying out curation (groundsperson) duties at the Adelaide Oval while turning out in Grade cricket for nearby Prospect.

From there a smattering of eye-catching performances in the germination phase of the Big Bash and a handful of Sheffield Shield games led him to be thrust in to the Australian Test side in 2011 when he took a wicket with his first ball. Nicking off Kumar Sangakkara no less. Twelve years and 500 Test wickets later, only Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath stand above him in the all-time wicket list for his country.

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