Australia captain Pat Cummins issues ‘Shane Warne’ challenge to Lyon following 500-wicket milestone

Nathan Lyon. Photo Courtesy: UNI

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IBNS: Australia captain Pat Cummins believes Nathan Lyon is more than capable of extending his career and catching legendary spinner Shane Warne to become the country’s leading Test wicket-taker.

Lyon collected his 500th Test scalp when he trapped Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf lbw on the fourth day of Australia’s dominant ICC World Test Championship victory in Perth and the off-spinner now has Warne (708 wickets) and Glenn McGrath (563) within his sights as he enters the twilight of his career.

While Lyon refused to be drawn into discussions about whether he could surpass McGrath and then Warne and become Australia’s highest ever wicket-taker, Cummins threw out a challenge to the 36-year-old just moments after he picked up his milestone on Sunday, an ICC report said.

“Still got another four or five years at least, with 10 games a year,” Cummins hinted as Lyon watched on.

“I still think you’ve got 40 or 50 Test matches, that’s four or five years with 10 (matches) a year,” he said.

“Averaging four or five a game, so a couple of hundred (wickets) – that’s 700,” Cummins said.

Lyon showed his importance to Australia with a total of five wickets over the two innings as the reigning World Test Championship winners got their campaign back on track with a dominant 360-run victory over Pakistan in Perth.

The veteran off-spinner will fancy his chances of adding to his already imposing total of 501 Test scalps over the next six weeks when Australia play their remaining two Test matches against Pakistan and then host the West Indies in a two-game series in Adelaide and Brisbane all before the end of January.

Australia then travel to New Zealand at the end of February for a two-match series against their trans-Tasman rival, with a five-match battle against India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the beginning of next summer likely to be pivotal in their bid to feature in a second consecutive World Test Championship final.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that he (Lyon) is probably the most important cog in our bowling line-up,” Cummins said of the durable spinner.

“This game is probably a little bit different. But most games where he’s bowling 30 overs a day, basically just put him down one end and he’s not going to go for many runs. He’s going to take a few wickets and then us quick bowlers can just rotate through the other end,” he said.

“No doubt he was missed over there in England (during this year’s Ashes series) for sure. As a captain, it makes it a lot easier knowing that bloke who has played 100-odd Test matches that knows his craft and can bowl pretty much in any conditions, you just let him get to work so it’s great having him back. Yeah, another 500 to go,” Cummins added.