Lyon wants his share
Nathan Lyon has taken eight wickets in nine one-day matches for the Redbacks. Photo: Morne de Klerk
Test off-spinner Nathan Lyon has revealed his long-term desire to be Australia's premier spinner in all three formats of the game and not to be pigeon-holed as a baggy green specialist. While he's content to focus all his energy on a gruelling next 12 months on the Test calendar, featuring four games in India and back-to-back Ashes series, the 25-year-old ACT Comets product wants to shed the image he's not suited to the coloured-clothing arena.
Despite emerging with standout performances for South Australia in the domestic T20 competition a couple of years ago, Lyon's only two one-day internationals came nine months ago as the second spinner alongside Xavier Doherty in the West Indies.
Doherty, the Tasmanian left-arm orthodox spinner, has been preferred for the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka.
Lyon went for 17 runs from one over for the Adelaide Strikers in their Big Bash loss to the Perth Scorchers on Thursday night, but is backing his bold style to pay dividends.
''I've got ambitions to play all three formats of cricket for Australia and test my game out in all formats,'' he said.
''Saying that, I'm happy to concentrate on Test match cricket with the massive year we've got ahead, but one day I want to put my hand up for all three formats and be the leading spinner.''
Given the rotation system of Australia's fast bowlers, Lyon stands to play a crucial role in the country's Test match ambitions during the next 12 months.
The four-Test series in India will be followed by the Ashes contests in England and Australia.
The closest Lyon has come to an Ashes Test was as the net bowler for both the England and Australian teams at the Adelaide Oval in December 2010.
He's careful not to look too far ahead, knowing he'll be relied on to get through a mountain of work on the spin-friendly decks in the subcontinent.
It's been a big summer for Lyon, who played in all six Tests and, for those outside the inner circle anyway, came as somewhat of a surprise choice to take over to lead the team victory song from retired champion Mike Hussey.
Lyon has had a close relationship with Hussey since the former Manuka Oval groundsman made a shock debut during the 2011 tour of Sri Lanka.
He describes Hussey as his mentor and was honoured when handed the role of leading the Australian team's expletive-laden victory tune following a Test-match win.
He was sworn to secrecy when Hussey told him of his decision after the Boxing Day Test.
''It was a big shock, but a massive honour, and I'm very privileged to be handed down as the song master from Huss, who was my mentor when I first came into the side,''
''He's helped me with everything - team functions, all the things at training and, most importantly, out in the middle of the ground.
''He told me in Melbourne, so I've known for a couple weeks now and I've been lying to all the boys, which has been hurting me because they've been trying to guess who it is and I've been saying no, it's not me.
''Huss has been someone I can go to talk to about different things, so he's been unbelievable for me.
''I owe him a fair bit.''
The role of leading the team song is usually reserved for one of the more experienced players and one of the first picked.
While Lyon has featured in 19 of Australia's past 20 Tests since making his debut, the question still remains whether the 25-year-old is the long-term successor to the leg-spin great Shane Warne.
Lyon's returns of 61 wickets at an average of 32.16 are handy without tearing apart batting line-ups, a statement backed up by his two five-wicket hauls in an innings, one of those coming on debut.
Those figures are similar to those of fellow off-spinner Nathan Hauritz (63 wickets at 34.98 from 17 Tests) before he was tossed aside on the spinners' scrapheap.
Lyon has been criticised for failing to rip through teams in the second innings when spinners should be able to do their damage on wearing wickets.
His main concern is building pressure and playing his role in team success.
Australia has won 11 of the 19 Tests that Lyon has been involved in, to go with five draws and only three defeats.
''You look at the columns and I haven't got the wickets, but I've felt I've been able to contribute to a couple of Test-match victories for Australia,'' Lyon said.
''Everyone's got their own expectations, seeing we've had a great spinner in Shane Warne for the past 10 years.
''If we take 10 wickets on the last day and I don't take any, I'm still happy.
''I've got to keep doing the right process and things will go my way.''
Lyon admitted he was caught off-guard by Hussey's sudden omission from the Australian one-day international team.
Hussey's snubbing was the subject of spirited discussion as the champion batsman was denied a fitting farewell tour after announcing his retirement before the Sydney Test.
National selectors pointed to wanting to begin planning for the 2015 World Cup as justification for leaving out the popular veteran of 79 Tests and 185 ODIs.
Lyon understands the logic behind ushering in new blood, but like the majority of fans would have loved to have seen one of the most popular figures in Australian cricket get a rousing send-off from the coloured-clothing arena.
''It was definitely a surprise and I suppose [disappointment] in the one breath,'' Lyon said.
''He's been an unbelievable character for Australian cricket in all three formats.
''I was definitely disappointed, but selectors are moving forward and Huss has had a great career, and I certainly wish him all the best with his family life.''