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Desire to win 5-0 burns in Aussies: Clarke

Skipper Michael Clarke said the SCG was the pitch perfect for fast bowlers and desire for a white-wash burns in the hearts of players.

PT3M18S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-307jh 620 349

Nathan Lyon is on track to become Australia’s greatest wicket-taking off-spinner and former Test all-rounder Greg Matthews says he has the potential to reach 400 wickets by the end of his career.

That would take him into second spot on the all-time Aussie spinners’ list, behind only the legendary Shane Warne, who snared a whopping 708 victims during his career.

Lyon passed 100 wickets on his way to claiming 5-50 in the second innings of the Boxing Day Test, leading Australia to an eight-wicket win and a 4-0 Ashes lead against a hapless England.

Nathan Lyon.

Ever improving: Nathan Lyon trains at the SCG. Photo: Kate Geraghty

The 26-year-old from Young needs just 41 more victims to overtake Hugh Trumble (141), who played for Australia from 1890-1904, at the top of the orthodox-spinning tree.

Lyon has played 29 Tests since bursting onto the scene with six scalps against Sri Lanka on debut in August 2011.

Despite being dropped twice last year and talk of him being overlooked for the second Ashes Test in Adelaide this summer, Lyon has delivered with key wickets.

He sits 11th on the all-time list of wicket-takers for Australian spinners – sixth for off-spinners.

But Matthews, who played 33 Tests, said Lyon would easily eclipse Trumble. ‘‘He will become the greatest off-spinning wicket-taker, statistically the greatest spinner in the history of Australian off-spin bowling, without a shadow of a doubt,’’ he said.

‘‘The greatest thing about him is technically he’s about 60 per cent  ... he’s got that much growth in him, he could be anything, and he’s young. He’ll definitely get 200 [wickets] and he’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t get 300.

‘‘I reckon he’d be disappointed if he doesn’t get 400, because he’s just got that much growth in him, it’s just all in front of him.’’

Matthews said Lyon got most of his wickets on the leg side and he would become even more dangerous once he began to threaten batsman on the off side.

Former NSW spinner Gavin Robertson, who played four Tests four Australia, is also a Lyon fan.

Lyon had played just four first-class games for South Australia when he was picked to play Sri Lanka in 2011, but Robertson said the rapid rise would work in Lyon’s favour.

Only four Australian spinners have surpassed 200 Test wickets, all of them leggies.

Robertson tipped Lyon to become the fifth, but was reluctant to say he could pass Richie Benaud as second on the list, with 248 scalps.

‘‘He’ll become our best off-spinner we’ve ever had,’’ Robertson said.

‘‘People have been bagging Nathan Lyon for 18 months yet he’s still our most prolific spin bowler when it comes to taking wickets.

‘‘It seemed like their only basis for bagging him was he was an off-spinner. We’ve taken a long time to come off the Shane Warne tsunami  ...  I think he’ll take 200 wickets, I really do.’’

Robertson also described Lyon as the ‘‘glue’’ of the Australian team.

He said the balance he gave the side should now cement his spot in the national team.

Australia's top spinners

1. Shane Warne (leg) 708 (wickets)
2. Richie Benaud (leg) 248
3. Clarrie Grimmett (leg) 216
4. Stuart MacGill (leg) 208
5. Bill O’Reilly (leg) 144
6. Hugh Trumble (off) 141
7. Ashley Mallett (off) 132
8. Bruce Yardley (off) 126
9. Ian Johnson (off) 109
10. George Giffen (off) 103
11. Nathan Lyon (off) 101*