Sport

Adam Gilchrist says there's 'no reason why' Nathan Lyon can't join '300 club'

It's one of the more revered and exclusive institutions in Australian cricket, but Adam Gilchrist believes there's "no reason why" Nathan Lyon can't become the next member of the 300 Test wickets club. 

Only five Australians – Shane Warne (708), Glenn McGrath (563), Dennis Lillee (355), Mitchell Johnson (313) and Brett Lee (310) have managed the feat – proving how tough a task it is. 

Nathan Lyon has been backed to claim 300 Test wickets by Adam Gilchrist. <i>Artwork: Marco Mana</i>
Nathan Lyon has been backed to claim 300 Test wickets by Adam Gilchrist. Artwork: Marco Mana 

However, Australian legend Gilchrist said Lyon has form, age and durability on his side in his quest to reach the milestone. 

He added now might be the ideal time to give Lyon an extended run with the white ball to decide whether he's the best option for the World Twenty20 tournament at India in March. 

Shane Warne speaks to Nathan Lyon during an Australian nets session in 2014.
Shane Warne speaks to Nathan Lyon during an Australian nets session in 2014. Photo: Getty Images

Lyon, who turned 28 in November, was named man of the match in Australia's second Test win over West Indies after taking 7-151 in his 51st Test. 

He has 182 Test wickets, the most by an Australian off-spinner and at his current rate of just over 3.5 wickets per Test, would require 85 caps to get to 300. 

The fact it's even a legitimate possibility is remarkable given Lyon was sensationally dumped in favour of youngster Ashton Agar for the first Test of the 2013 Ashes tour. 

The former ACT Comet is likely to be in Canberra this month for a cricket clinic with his older brother, Brendan, who won a first grade premiership together for Wests. 

Nathan Lyon celebrates the wicket of Kraigg Brathwaite at the MCG last week.
Nathan Lyon celebrates the wicket of Kraigg Brathwaite at the MCG last week. Photo: Getty Images

Already the first Australian off-spinner to play 50 Tests, Lyon will soon become the first to claim 200 Test victims and Gilchrist believes he can snare 100 more. 

"I wouldn't have a clue how many Tests they've got coming up the next few years, but there's no reason why he can't get there," Gilchrist said. 

"He doesn't seem to ever have any injury troubles. I have no hesitation in saying he has every opportunity to get up there. 

"Clearly his tenacity and desire to improve and be able to have an effect at that level is evident.

"He's had a few setbacks as the guy who was brought up and put back out [of the team] for someone else, but now he's worked hard and commands his spot. 

"He'll probably need four or five years [to reach 300] and a lot of things can changes in that time.

"The fact there's only five who have got past that mark shows how difficult it is to remain fit enough and good enough to get to that target.

"[But] there's nothing I can see on the horizon which is going to trip him up in the immediate future anyway."

Despite his sustained success Lyon remains one of the Australian cricket team's more underrated players. 

Gilchrist was adamant it isn't the case in the dressing room. 

He pointed to the fact he has the job of leading the team song as a strong sign of the esteem he's held within the inner sanctum. 

"One thing which has been evident being in the Australian team and I hear from others in and around the group that he is so team oriented and team focussed and that shines through in the on field efforts," he said. 

"He bowls well in a partnership and often the off spinners don't get the rewards that their pressure creates.

"It's great he's getting the wickets and getting acknowledged. 

"On the song, for those outside the group it might seem a childish, schoolboy type symbol.

"But without being too melodramatic about it, it really is a vital part in the fabric of the Australian cricket team.

"That tells you a lot about the guy's character, his qualities and the manner in which he cares about his teammates."

Although well established as Australia's best spinner, selectors have been reluctant to give Lyon an extended run with the white ball. 

He has played just eight one-day internationals and was shattered at missing out on selection for last year's World Cup. 

Given the spin-friendly conditions in the sub-continent, Gilchrist said a case could be made for Lyon to be given a chance before the World Twenty20. 

Australia relied on Glenn Maxwell's part-time spin through the World Cup, while Tasmania tweaker Xavier Doherty was given limited opportunities. 

"There's no reason why he shouldn't be tried," Gilchrist said. 

"You only find out if you can play a certain format if you get an extended run at it.

"In 50 over cricket, there's a good little period now to find out and the way he's feeling in his bowling and the confidence he's got, there's probably no better time to unleash it in a world T20 tournament." 

* Lyon Cricket will hold a coaching clinic for juniors aged 7-17 at Radford College, Canberra from 8.30am on Tuesday, January 19. Cost is $80 per person.