Sport Cricket Cricket: Lyon spins his way into a World Cup role

Cricket: Lyon spins his way into a World Cup role

Nathan Lyon has had two strong performances to make himself a World Cup finals' danger. Photo: Getty
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For Australian bowler Nathan Lyon, sometimes it’s more about the wickets he creates in one-day cricket than the ones he takes.

Australia’s premier Test spinner, Lyon spent the first six games of the World Cup watching from the sideline but never stopped believing he could help his team’s title defence.

Now, after two performances, he has put himself in the box seat to be coach Justin Langer’s first-choice spinner for the finals when they begin next week.

Lyon’s selection has largely been a matter of balance, opponents and conditions.

A dry Lord’s surface has been friendly to him, as was the fact that England struggled against Sri Lanka’s finger spinners before he made his World Cup debut.

Jason Behrendorff’s inclusion has also mattered. With the left-armer in the side, Australia have three genuine wicket-takers. It’s allowed them to go the more defensive option in Lyon as opposed to the attacking Adam Zampa.

“I always had confidence my chance would come, that’s for sure,” Lyon said.

“[Coach Justin Langer just told me to] stay ready, so I don’t have to get ready.

It’s a lot better being part of the squad than sitting back at home watching it on TV. Because you get late nights back there and you’re not a chance of playing.”

Lyon knows that feeling.

He wasn’t picked for the 2015 World Cup at home, and has played in just 12 of the 40 one-day series Australia have played since his Test debut.

However, his case for one-day cricket is strong.

His economy rate of 4.92 since the end of the 2015 World Cup is third only to Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins from Australia’s front-line bowlers.

He sent down 17 dot balls in his first five overs against New Zealand on Saturday.

While he claimed only one wicket, seven have fallen at the other end in the two games he has played during his spells, with the pressure building.

“I think it’s about bowling in partnerships,” Lyon said.

“I’ve always said throughout my whole career it’s not about personal success for me. It’s about bowling well in partnerships and building pressure.

“When you’ve got world-class bowlers at the other end it’s even crucial if you can bowl well in partnerships and have that understanding of who we are bowling to and who is bowling the other end.

“That plays a bigger role in cricket than other people realise.”

Australia plays South Africa on Saturday in its final preliminary match.

-AAP