Hazlewood ‘best fast bowler in the world’
NATHAN Lyon is not one for making big statements but he says we can put this in lights - Josh Hazlewood is the world's best fast bowler. Easily.
While the pre-Ashes buzz around Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc has been electric Lyon feels the understated Hazlewood has his trade covered from all angles and is the game's best quick "by a long way''.
"He can do anything,'' Lyon said of Hazlewood.
"He's quick, he can bowl bumpers, he can control the new ball, he can swing it in and out, he can reverse it. I haven't seen a bowler who's got that control in a long time.
"I'm happy for you to put it in the headline. He's the best fast bowler in the world.''
Hazlewood's role in the Australian attack may not be as dramatic as Cummins and Starc but without him, the whole show lacks fibre because his relentless economy allows the other two to unleash their inner beasts.
Lyon's expansive, almost playful demeanour at Monday's media session was a world away from the solemn aura he cast this time last year entering the Gabba Test against Pakistan when his place was on the line before he gained an 11th hour reprieve.
For once Australia is not speculating about playing four quicks though Lyon, who turned 30 on Monday, joked he was still waiting for the headline.
While most finger spinners, even the great Muttiah Muralitharan (12 wickets at 75), have dreadful records in Australia, Lyon has somehow bucked the trend with 118 wickets at a better-than-it-looks average of 34.
When asked what his secret was Lyon quipped "Do you reckon (English spinner) Moeen Ali is going to read this? The secret is already out there. You've got to be consistent.
"If you want to go around it, you go around it. But I'm not going to go around it so there you go, give you a little hint.''
That "little hint'' may refer to Lyon's method of coming over the top rather around the side of the ball, giving him spring and bounce on unsympathetic Australian wickets.
The downside over coming over the top rather "around'' the ball is he does not get the vicious turn on the dusty decks of the Indian subcontinent.
Lyon's career is vivid proof of a theory floated by Indian spinner Bishen Bedi that the best place to learn how to bowl spin is on wickets that don't turn at all.
"(Growing up on wickets that barely turned) I had to find a way to get other guys out if I wanted to further my career,'' Lyon said.
"I had to figure out different ways and work guys out quicker than normal guys.''
From the point where he was almost dropped last season Lyon has become a cult figure among Australian crowds with the now banished gloveman Matt Wade starting the "nice Garry'' chorus.
"It's good. it's brilliant. I've now got little kids and guys older than my dad walking around the streets calling me Nice Garry.
"It's a little bit different. I'm enjoying it. It gives the boys a lot of humour.''