Nathan Lyon would welcome Warne back
Nathan Lyon starred on Test debut last year when Australian cricket was in turmoil, and he is taking an equally unflappable approach after being dragged into the spotlight by Shane Warne's flirtation with coming out of retirement.
Rather than be bamboozled and bedevilled by the champion spinner's latest googly, the incumbent is not allowing Warne's public musings to distract him from the job of being Australia's No.1 tweaker.
Lyon, who claimed a five-for in his first Test innings, even declared Warne as ''probably still the best in the world if he wanted to be'' despite the leggie's untimely thrashing at the hands of Aaron Finch on Friday night.
As for holding his place in Australia's XI should Warne dust off his baggy green, or the floppy white he preferred wearing during his 145-Test career, Lyon is leaving that up to the powers that be.
''He's a legend of Australian cricket. If he wanted to come back and play Test match cricket it'd be fantastic for Australia but I'm happy where I'm standing at the moment,'' Lyon said.
''The Shane Warne stuff is out of my control, it's up to the selectors.
''I've got no doubt he's a world-class bowler. [We're] totally different bowlers. He's the best in the world.''
Admittedly, Lyon would be placing unnecessary pressure on himself by daring Australia's greatest bowler of all time to take his place though the chances of Warne playing Test cricket again are as slim as the 43-year-old's new streamlined physique.
Lyon's calm approach to the latest publicity Warne has generated should come as no surprise given the unenviable task confronting the off-spinner when he became the country's 421st recipient of the baggy green, against Australia's upcoming opponent Sri Lanka.
Not only was he becoming the 11th spinner trialled since Warne's departure but he was doing so at a turbulent time for Australian cricket.
The warts-and-all Argus report had just been released. Then Australian coach Tim Nielsen was about to stand down, the selection panel that anointed him were on their way out and Michael Clarke was in his first series at the helm.
''I didn't really know much about that, I wasn't part of that Argus review,'' Lyon said. ''I was on the outer and didn't really understand all that stuff. I was probably fortunate to a certain degree I could concentrate and start learning from some of the best players in the world.''
Lyon, too, was in a transitional phase. At the start of the year he was yet to play at Shield level. In fact, his Test debut was just his sixth at first-class level, which highlights how much of a speculative selection he was by Andrew Hilditch.
Lyon has enjoyed learning the ''hard way'', absorbing lessons taught in the nets by Ricky Ponting and those dished out on the field by the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Sachin Tendulkar and more recently Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis.
''They're the world's best bats and you've got to find ways to compete against them,'' Lyon said.
''If you can learn out there in that environment you're certainly learning the best way. I'm a big believer in the way I bowl off-spin, that I'm always going to be looking for wickets.
''I'm always going to be an attacking off-spinner. There's nothing wrong with having blokes on the boundary and your catchers in close.
''What I learnt there was you're always going to be in the contest no matter where they're hitting you.''
Lyon, with 12 wickets at an average of 40.5, was Australia's leading wicket-taker against South Africa and should find Sri Lanka less formidable however the world's No.6 side have traditionally found spin more comfortable to face than fast bowling, especially on the bouncier tracks in Australia.
Despite marquee series to come against India and England in the next 12 months, Lyon's goal remains humble: ''To be the best cricketer I can be and hopefully contribute to a lot of Australian victories.''
''I'm proud of my achievements but personally I know I've still got a long way to go to get to where I want to get to and where the Australian team wants to get to.''
Sydney Morning Herald