Playing for Australia was my dream: Nathan Lyon

Published: Saturday, January 21, 2012, 13:44 [IST]
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Lyon excited to play at home ground

Adelaide, Jan 21: The last time Australia played a Test here, Nathan Lyon was a mere greenkeeper assigned to trim the outfield but come January 24, the off-spinner would be striding out of the dressing room wearing a baggy green at his home ground for the fourth and final Test against India.

Lyon was assisting curator Damian Hough in maintaining the ground for the Ashes Test between Australia and England last summer but has since come a long way as a player.

"It (last summer's Adelaide Test) was my first ever Test match and rocking up at 5.30 every morning to cut the ground was something pretty special," Lyon was quoted as saying by 'The Sydney Morning Herald'.

"It's a great place to play cricket but I'm not worrying about the greenkeeping side of things now, I'm totally focused on the Test match coming up."

"I've got to pinch myself, but in saying that, I've played nine Test matches now and I'm confident in my own skill-set. I will be preparing to play as everyone else will be in the squad," he added.

Hough also remembers Lyon's stint last summer.

"We have other grounds we look after but he wanted to be here from the start to the end. He wanted to experience an Adelaide Oval Test," said Hough.

"He came here from Canberra with a pretty good reputation as a cricketer but also as a turfy. I thought, 'Oh well, I'll give him a go.' I knew he was a cricketer but I didn't realise he'd be playing for Australia."

Although Lyon has just two wickets for 180 runs to show in the ongoing series, the Australian team is keen to persist with him.

"I'm very excited about Nathan. I'm looking forward to seeing him bowl an extended spell in Adelaide because all our Test matches this summer have been played on seamer-friendly wickets so he hasn't had an opportunity to really shine," said coach Mickey Arthur.

"He hasn't played a major role because he just hasn't bowled enough. He's such a nice chap, he's taken everything on board and he's worked extremely hard. I am hoping he gets the rewards in Adelaide, and I'm pretty sure he will," he added.

Lyon said having a supportive captain like Michael Clarke has also helped his cause.

"I've got a really good relationship with Michael Clarke," he said.

"He's a fantastic captain to play under and we've got some clear plans with my bowling. He's always told me to back my skill and do what I do best and that's be an attacking spinner rather than a defensive one, he's been awesome like that."

"If they want to come hard at me it's just another challenge for me," he added.

Another off-spinner, Saeed Ajmal of Pakistan, has made waves with a 10-wicket haul against world's number one Test team, England in Abu Dhabi and his 'doosra' has had a mesmerising effect on English batsmen.

Lyon though says 'doosra' isn't quite his cup of tea.

"I just love bowling my stock ball and doing the change in pace and rely on natural variation. There's no doosra for me. I rely on my ability to hang the ball in the air, and get some drop and drift on it. I'm not worried about the doosra," he said.

Quick bowlers are making a meal out of Indian batting, but Lyon doesn't think his role in the side has changed from being an attacking bowler to being a defensive one.

"I still try to attack while bowling spin. I haven't bowled long spells, not really get into in the sense. We had a couple of short Tests."

Adelaide though could be different with its reputation of helping the spinners as the match progresses.

"The pitch here gets slower and lower and there's a little bit of turn for me. To me, it's the best ground in the world and I look forward to playing here. I definitely feel comfortable here but it's still a game of cricket and I have to compete hard and execute my skills."

Indian batting has been under the weather in this series but Lyon suspects the visitors would carry the attack to their camp in the final Test.

"I expect India to hit us hard. It could go to the fifth day and it would be a pretty hard task for us," he said.

Lyon hasn't quite spoken to his mates of the ground-staff and sought support by way of spin-aiding turf. He also hasn't offered any inputs to his team regarding how the strip behaves in Adelaide.

"Michael Clarke (captain) and Arthur (coach) have played more cricket than me and have more understanding. They are more than capable of taking the right decisions."

Lyon used the early finish of the third Test at WACA last week to work on his bowling, batting and fielding, and hopes it would come to good use in the final game.

"It's been a great journey and I've loved every moment of it. It's been lovely to have worked here but it's in the past. My focus now is on playing Test match cricket for Australia."

There's a fair bit of grass on the pitch and Lyon is assailed by the stray thought that Australia might even contemplate going with four quicks in the final Test.

"There's a still fair amount of grass still and team hasn't been decided yet. Who knows we might still go with four quicks."

Lyon is hoping the left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan's footmark would later develop into good areas for him to exploit while bowling to a right-hander.

"Hopefully Zaheer Khan would have those roughs. Still you have to try and plan to get these blokes out. That's for me to now try and execute those plans."

Lyon has so far taken 24 wickets from nine Tests at an average of 30.04.


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