Don’t expect to see Nathan Lyon emerging from the spin bowling laboratory with a doosra, a carrom ball or any other fancy bit of trickery in his repertoire. Australia’s latest great slow bowling hope is a young man of simple tastes.
”I’ve only got one stock ball,” the 23-year-old said. ”So I’m quite happy to keep that stock ball going at the moment, if I can keep up the loop, and the drop, and the drift, I’ll be quite happy with myself.”
There is still a great deal of the country lad in the off-spinner from Young and that is unlikely to change in a hurry despite the five-wicket haul on debut against Sri Lanka that has propelled him into the spotlight.
The humble background was spelled out by the fact his father had not even been watching television live on Lyon’s breakthrough day. A Department of Agriculture employee, Lyon Sr had been checking a crop in Albury as his son was having the time of his life in Galle.
Lyon speaks in much the same way he approaches his bowling – in straightforward fashion and with a minimum of fuss.
Yet there was no question about the effectiveness of his style as he cleaned up half of the Sri Lankan order on a frightening batting track that has backfired horribly on the hosts.
Lyon’s 5-34 in his first Test outing was memorable but equally important in the context of Australia’s first Test outing since January.
It assisted Michael Clarke’s side to a hefty first-innings lead of 150, an advantage it built on yesterday with a lower-order flourish, making a respectable 210 in its second innings to set Sri Lanka an enormous 379 to win.
With Sri Lanka slumping to 4-63 at drinks in the final session, Australia was inching nearer to an inevitable triumph.
The most distant of targets appeared further on the horizon when a fired-up Ryan Harris took out both Sri Lankan openers with only 15 runs on the board.
Shortly afterwards Lyon was back in the attack but it was Shane Watson, another of the first-innings stars, who stood up to produce an aggressive lifter that led to Kumar Sangakarra being caught in the gully by Michael Hussey for 17.
Mitchell Johnson, the forgotten member of the Australian bowling unit in this Test, then finally earned some reward of his own, getting Thilan Samaraweera caught behind.
Lyon himself had been responsible for a portion of the bevy of lower-order runs that sent the first clash of the three-match series even further beyond Sri Lanka’s grasp.
He swept danger man Rangana Herath (5-79) for consecutive boundaries in a quickly-accumulated 13.
Fellow first-gamer Trent Copeland posted an impressive unbeaten 23.