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How Rangana Herath’s blunt words ‘you blokes will stuff it up’ inspired Nathan Lyon

The Australian off spinner looks back at Herath’s advice and time spent with Muralitharan that turned his career. Lyon says he is willing to “bowl ugly” against Sri Lanka.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: June 27, 2022 12:22:30 pm
The off-spinner has talked about how the former Sri Lanka international's words helped him transform his game. (Courtesy: AP)

Ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka, Nathan Lyon, who has 427 wickets, looked back at to a chat with the former Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath that made him rethink his bowling approach.

“I said, ‘What do you do that I don’t do?’ And he said, ‘I know that if I put the ball in one spot, you blokes will stuff up’. Those were his exact words,” Lyon recalled asking Herath at the end of the 2016 series when the Sri Lankan bowled the hosts to a 3-0 series triumph.

“That’s a pretty simple mindset,” said Lyon ahead of the two-Test series that starts in Galle on June 29. “I took out of it was, the secret to everyone’s success is if you can challenge their defence for long periods of time, you’ll be able to create chances.

“That’s what (Herath) did extremely well. He challenged our defence for long periods of time, and he got the rewards.”

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In six Tests in Sri Lanka, Lyon has taken 24 wickets at an average of 33.58, not far from his career average of 32.15 but he is determined to improve on it.

Lyon is known for his over-spin deliveries which bounces a lot more than the off spinners who rely on side-spin. Now, Lyon says he wants to change his bowling, and bring in a lot more variations in the series in Sri Lanka.

“I still believe in spinning up the back of the ball and that’s (effective) no matter where it is,” Lyon said, “and that’s purely myself believing that my skill is good enough to perform wherever in the world.


“But what’s come to me on my terms – and this is purely me – is the ability and willingness to bowl ugly.

“That’s only me talking about my bowling and how I can be more effective over here. That’s something I’ll be trying to do, is look to bowl a little bit more ugly than what I’m used to.

“It’s different variations which don’t really work in Australia. That potentially might be round-arm, totally undercutting it, slight little wrist position (changes) – behind the ball, beside the ball, etc. That’s my terms of bowling ugly.”


Lyon also had trained with Muttiah Muralitharan in the past in Sri Lanka, and also worked with him in 2016 when the legendary Sri Lankan off spinner was a spin consultant with Australia.

“I trained with Murali, batted against Murali, bowled with Murali for two or three hours a day,” Lyon said. “So it was pretty remarkable spending time with him here in Sri Lanka, probably the greatest Sri Lankan cricketer to ever play the game, definitely the greatest (Sri Lankan) bowler.

“Talking to Murali, it’s not about me trying to bowl like him, it’s more of a mindset thing. I think I’ve been able to really learn off so many people around the world, but Murali’s mindset was pretty unique.”

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First published on: 27-06-2022 at 11:56:40 am

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