Sport Cricket The man who can make the difference for Australia in India

The man who can make the difference for Australia in India

Nathan Lyon celebrates a wicket against Pakistan. Photo: Getty
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If I could be anybody on the planet for the next five weeks, I’d be Nathan Lyon.

Why? Because at the end of that period, he could be a legend of Australian cricket.

Let’s face it – the only way we are going to win a Test in India is if someone puts in an absolute standout performance.

I reckon Lyon can do that – maybe more than once.

The numbers would suggest he is a great already, but we don’t call him that.

He’s not considered in the same class as Ashley Mallett, Stuart MacGill or Hugh Trumble – despite taking more Test wickets than each of them.

Lyon’s 228 scalps – a figure that puts him 11th in Australian history with only two spinners, Shane Warne (708) and Richie Benaud (248), in front of him – are made more impressive by the fact he is only 29.

He is prepared to throw the ball up and I call him an Eveready battery – he never lets you down.

He has been to India before, experienced the conditions, and took seven wickets in an innings of a 2013 Test there.

The fact that he’ll be playing on pitches tailor-made for spin bowling is why I’d be so keen to be him.

Don’t expect wickets to suit our quicks, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

These decks will turn and it is up to Lyon to get the most out of them.

You can’t win in India without your spinners doing well – England showed that in the series they lost there 4-0 late last year.

Our series win in 2004 was largely based on the work done by our quicks, yes, but the pitches were vastly different back then.

But if I’m Lyon, I’m waking up on Thursday thinking it’s my birthday.

If he can get 24 wickets in the series, it gives us a bit of a chance.

Mitch Marsh’s selection is a surprise, Rodney Hogg says. Photo: Getty

Obviously India is the massive favourite and we’ve got too many weaknesses to win if we’re not at our absolute best.

All-rounder Mitch Marsh doesn’t even deserve to be in the squad but it looks like he’ll play the series opener.

It is time he paid the selectors back for the faith they have shown in him.

I expect David Warner and Steve Smith to make the bulk of our runs, so there’s no surprises there.

But we really need runs from Marsh and Matthew Wade and the tail, too.

That’s how you get scores of 500.

India’s quality is shown by the fact a chap called Karun Nair, who made 303 in his most recent Test outing, isn’t likely to play.

India has two great spinners in Ravi Ashwin and Ravinder Jadeja, who average under 22 with the ball on home soil.

They both bat really well, too, and are likely to be coming in after Virat Kohli has set things up.

There’s just too many ifs about this Australian side for me, such as how Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Steve O’Keefe will go.

They’re hardly proven Test players.

I’ve played Test cricket in India and I can tell you it is a very tough place for a fast bowler.

Starc and Hazlewood are stars but the hot, dry Indian conditions will wear them out pretty quickly.

They have some long spells ahead of them.

Ultimately, India should win the series comfortably.

I’m going for 3-0, with a draw thrown in, but if Lyon gets hot then that could change.

Rodney Hogg played 38 Test matches for Australia, taking 123 wickets. He also played in 71 one-day internationals.

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