Saturday, July 20, 2024

Nathan Lyon ends his long wait, wins ‘equivalent of a World Cup’ in WTC title

Veteran Australia spinner Nathan Lyon watched on as teammates lifted two World Cup trophies over the past decade but he finally tasted glory on a global stage by winning the ICC World Test Championship title.

Lyon made the most of his opportunity when finally called onto the biggest stage in his preferred format in the WTC Final against , after missing selection in Australia’s triumphant ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2015 and ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 outfits.

The off-spinner was critical on the fifth day of the WTC Final as Australia wrapped up India’s second innings to seal a 209-run victory, as Lyon finished with 4/41 including the key early wicket of Rohit Sharma and the last wicket that completed the victory.

While teammates Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have now won world titles in all three formats, the World Test Championship mace is the first that Lyon has lifted.

“Nathan just made a comment there: It’s sort of his World Cup, having not been able to play in a final of a World Cup. Obviously he’s played a lot of Test cricket, so for him it’s the equivalent of a World Cup,” Starc told the ICC after victory was secured in the WTC Final.

“Pat and I, and Josh, have been around for all three, Mitch Marsh as well, who’s on the side here. ‘Davey’ and ‘Smithy’ as well, particularly, who have played a massive part in all three of those. For this group, there’s a lot of experience there, a lot of time together, a lot of success,” he added.

Lyon first wore the Baggy Green in a Test against Sri Lanka in 2011 and is now a mainstay of Australia’s red-ball line-up while playing all of their past 98 matches.

The 35-year-old was by far the most damaging bowler across the just-completed WTC 2021-23 cycle with 88 wickets from 20 Tests, well clear of next-best Kagiso Rabada of South Africa on 67.

Yet the veteran of 120 Tests with 487 wickets has played only two T20Is, and has been on the outer of the ODI setup since being part of the Cricket World Cup 2019 semi-final loss to eventual champions England.

Australia can turn to that result for extra motivation in the Cricket World Cup 2023 in India later this year, just as missing out on the inaugural WTC Final in 2021 propelled them toward their latest success.

“With the group being together for such a long time and missing out on the last (WTC Final), it sort of lit the fire, I think, to want to be there this time around,” Starc said.

“We’ve been quite successful, particularly over the last two or three years. We set a few goals in the most recent time, obviously India which we didn’t quite get over the line. We had some pretty good series in the sub-continent prior to that and then, obviously, this was the next in line before the Ashes,” he added.

Australia will now turn their focus to the Ashes series against arch-rivals England with the first Test in Edgbaston to start on June 16.

Left-arm quick Starc will be sweating on selection after finishing the WTC Final with match figures of 4/148, with late bloomer Scott Boland and revitalised pacer Hazlewood also pushing to join captain Cummins in the first Test XI alongside the linchpin Lyon.

“We’ll enjoy this moment as a group, players and staff have really contributed massively to this. But we’re very quickly onto the Ashes which again starts on Friday,” said Starc.

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