On what proved to be the final day of the First Test at Optus Stadium in Perth, last Sunday, December 17, off-spinner Nathan Lyon has become just the third Australian and first of his craft to reach the 500-Test wicket milestone.

He followed in the footsteps of the legendary Aussie’s of our summer passion, Glenn McGrath (563) and the late, great Shane Warne (708) to reach this exulted landmark.

Across the Test cricketing world, Lyon was the eighth player to achieve the historic figure, following Sri Lankan mystery spinner Muthiah Muralidaran (800), Warne, English quick Jimmy Anderson (690) India leg spinner Anil Kumble (619), Anderson’s partner in crime Stuart Broad (604), McGrath and West Indian quick Courtney Walsh (519).

It is well recorded the Lyon hails from Young in rural New South Wales, but many don’t realize the important role that the Adelaide Oval and South Australian cricket played in Lyon’s rise through the ranks.

He had gained employing on the Adelaide Oval ground staff under current head curator Damian Hough, and moved to the “City of Churches” from the ACT.

Lyon was playing for the Prospect Pirates in the SACA A grade competition when his bowling talent was spotted by the SA Redbacks’ Big Bash coach at the time Darren Berry.

He was plucked out of obscurity, made his Twenty20 debut for South Australia on January 4, 2011 against NSW, taking 2/30, including dismissing Daniel Smith and Nic Maddinson in successive balls.

Following Lyon’s impressive form in T20s for South Australia, he made his first-class debut in mid-February taking 4/81 and 2/119 against the Sandgrophers at the WACA ground.

Immediately former Test cricketer and ABC commentator Kimberley Hughes talked up Lyon’s prowess as a star of the future.

Within seven months Lyon was elevated to Test cricket, winning cap number 421, debuting against Sri Lanka.

It was a fairy-tale start as Lyon struck with his first delivery in Test cricket having Kumar Sangakkara caught at slip by Michael Clarke in Galle; this being a part of an outstanding first innings haul of five wickets for 34.

By 2015, Lyon had become Australia’s most successful Test off-spinner of all time, passing Hugh Trumble’s tally of 141 wickets, and he was demonstratively nicknamed by his cohorts, “the GOAT”.

There has been plenty of peaks and troughs in Lyon’s career. In 2013 he was dropped from the Test team twice. The first in India after he was aggressively attacked by MS Dhoni in the first Test in Chennai. Then he wasn’t selected for the first two Tests of the Ashes tour of England.

An aberration in his game for a time had been his ability to bowl Australia to victory in the fourth innings of a Test, seen as a primary role for a spinner.

He finally achieved that against India in Adelaide in 2014-15, in what became his inaugural Player-of-the-Match performance.

In late 2021, against England at the Gabba, he joined Australia’s 400-Test wicket club.

Lyon was expected to break the 500-wicket barrier during the 2023 Ashes series, but sustaining a high-grade calf injury during the tour that ruled him out of the final three Tests.

Fearful of the consequences of the injury, and worried that he may never play again, Lyon reset his goals, with hopes of reaching that special 500 test wicket mark back on home soil.

“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and dream of getting back out here on this stage and performing here for Australia,” Lyon said after the first test victory.

“I had a tough couple of nights watching the guys in the last three Ashes Tests, but also a lot of time to reflect and reset some goals.

“This is where my passion lies, I absolutely love playing cricket for Australia.

“I never take it for granted.

“I’m pretty proud of where we are at the moment.

“I just love playing cricket for Australia.”

Lyon is expected to quickly to move into seventh spot during the summer, and if his lofty ambition to play on the next Ashes tour of England in 2027 is achieved, he will easily have passed the 600-test wicket mark.

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