Nathan Lyon hasn’t had a great time with the ball in recent times © Getty Images
By stumps on day three, Nathan Lyon’s statistical contribution to the Test was a modest total of one wicket and 29 runs, but his theatrical contribution has been far greater, to the point where his Australian teammates have dubbed him a “cult hero”.
In his first-innings tenth-wicket partnership with Jackson Bird, Lyon frustrated Pakistan but delighted the crowd with clips off the pads, strong drives and one particularly powerful pull shot off Mohammed Amir.
Since then the number of shirts bearing his nickname, ‘Garry’, ballooned at the Gabba. When Australia have been in the field, fans have roared with delight each time Steven Smith has brought him on to bowl, in a manner usually reserved for most explosive fast bowlers.
Lyon’s place in the Australian team seemed to be in doubt when Australian selectors made a raft of changes in the wake of heavy losses in the first two Tests against South Africa. But Usman Khawaja felt Lyon had been unlucky in recent matches.
“I think he’s been bowling well for a while now and just hasn’t been getting rewards,” he said after play on day three. “I’ve seen a couple of dropped catches here and there and what not, and that’s just a part of cricket. If you just look at his stats, yeah they didn’t look great, but I always felt like he was still bowling all right and just wasn’t getting the rewards.
“He’s bowling pretty well at the moment and he bowled quite well last game, the pink-ball game. The crowd is on his side, which I’m sure always helps, which is always fun. I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s pretty good.”
Lyon hails from New South Wales, which makes his popularity with the famously parochial Queensland crowd even more unusual. The two states are fierce rivals in all sports, but Lyon has been given a more boisterous reception than Queensland Bulls players, Khawaja and Matt Renshaw.
“He’s been playing it up a little bit,” Khawaja said. “We’re calling him Queensland’s new favourite son. I’ve been booted out, me and Renshaw are gone. It’s been awesome how the crowd has been getting behind him. We keep trying to get ‘nice, Garry’ in there at some point. It’s been good.”
“We love it. It’s good fun. It’s nice to see the crowd get amongst it. It’s random. Social media’s funny, how things can just blow out of proportion. I call him the new cult hero. Everyone just seems to love him. It’s good fun. Hopefully he can take a few wickets tomorrow and get the crowd up again.”
Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo