Qantas Tour of South Africa
Lyon joins elite with 300th Test scalp
Amid the scandal, off-spinner becomes just the sixth Aussie to reach the remarkable milestone
Sam Ferris at Newlands, Cape Town
25 March 2018, 10:15 PM AEST
Amid the turmoil of the ball tampering controversy that has engulfed the third Test in Cape Town, Nathan Lyon became just the second Australian spinner to claim 300 wickets.
Lyon had Proteas spearhead Kagiso Rabada stumped by stand-in skipper Tim Paine for wicket No.300 after needed 10 scalps to reach the milestone when he touched down in South Africa more than a month ago.
The 30-year-old is the sixth Australian to capture 300 wickets, behind Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee, Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee.
Having captured a wicket with his first ball in Test cricket – Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara – Lyon stuttered in his early Test career before establishing himself as Australia's premier spinner midway through the 2013 Ashes series in England.
In 2017 no Test bowler captured more than Lyon's 63 wickets, which included spell-binding performances in Bangalore, Dhaka and Chittagong.
Lyon spoke to cricket.com.au prior to the series and nominated some his fondest memories in the Baggy Green.
"Winning the Ashes five-nil (in 2013-14) and then four-nil (last summer) at home," Lyon said.
"Then also off the back of winning five-nil (four) years ago coming over here and winning two-one. That was an unbelievable Test series.
"In Centurion, we played the house down and then they came back and hit us hard with a reverse-swinging ball (in Port Elizabeth).
"But then Michael Clarke played an unbelievable innings to get a big hundred down in Cape Town, then Ryno (Ryan Harris) on one leg stands out. They're just a couple of series that stand out for me."
When asked what his favourite dismissal was, Lyon chose a classic off-spinner's wicket to perhaps the best batsman of the modern era.
"One that stands out was bowling Sachin Tendulkar through the gate," he said.
"I think all the videos have been deleted off YouTube so I can't watch it anymore, but I can tell you it was at Chennai (in 2013), a pretty good ball actually.
"There's been a few that stand out, but it's more about series wins for me at the moment.
"I'll look back at my career and sit back with some family and friends and have a couple of beers after I call it a day, hopefully in a few years, and look back and talk about 'back in my day'.
Steve Smith says he's proud of the way Lyon has developed and evolved his bowling throughout his prolific career.
"The way he's been able to change and adapt and bowl the way he has to bowl for different conditions, it's been fantastic the last year," Smith told cricket.com.au ahead of the first Test.
"He deserves all the credit he's getting at the moment.
"He had an amazing year last year and he's going from strength to strength.
"He's a lot more confident in the way he's bowling now, he's confident in his skill set.
"It's great signs for us."
Australia's top Test wicket-takers
Shane Warne 708 (145 Tests)
Glenn McGrath 563 (124)
Dennis Lillee 355 (70)
Mitchell Johnson 313 (73)
Brett Lee 310 (760
Nathan Lyon 301 (77*)
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage