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No fifty? No problem — Gazza is GOATing it with both bat and ball

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Last updated on 02 Mar 2024 | 12:01 AM
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No fifty? No problem — Gazza is GOATing it with both bat and ball

After his 4-fer on Day 2, Lyon made a heck of a contribution with the bat on Day 3

Only three batters in Test history have scored 1000+ Test runs without posting a single fifty-plus score. 

Nathan Lyon. Kemar Roach. Waqar Younis

Among them, Lyon (12.72) comfortably averages the highest. And he does so despite playing 42 more innings than Younis, and 33 more innings than Roach. 

Statistically, then, Lyon arguably (and probably) *is* the best ever batter to never have scored a Test fifty. 

This might look like a silly statement, but when you consider that the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan and Jimmy Anderson — both comfortably ‘worse’ batters than Lyon —  have a Test fifty to their name, it’s pretty tough to not feel for The GOAT, who is, without question, a batter good enough to have a Test fifty to his name. 

On Saturday (March 2) at the Basin Reserve, Lyon came agonizingly close to ending this drought. ‘Close, but no cigar’ but, coming in as a nightwatchman, the 36-year-old made a heck of a contribution that deflated the Kiwis and further reaffirmed his credentials as an extremely handy run-getter.

Lyon should have been sent packing on the final ball of Day 2 but Tim Southee at slip spilled a sitter that ended up giving the nightwatchman a reprieve. 

New Zealand would have entered Day 3 hoping to see the back of Lyon early, but the GOAT had other ideas.

Batting at No.4 for only the fourth time in his career, Lyon left New Zealand stunned with an early morning assault of 41 off just 46 balls. 

Going 204 runs behind in a Test is never ideal, but having sent both Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne back to the hut early, the Blackcaps would no doubt have believed that they could put Australia under serious pressure with a couple of wickets in the morning.

It took less than half an hour for this belief to get dashed as Lyon came out swinging and stretched Australia’s lead beyond 250 in the blink of an eye. Together with Usman Khawaja, he added 49 for the third wicket to put New Zealand on the back foot instantly. 

Lyon’s knocks are always super entertaining, and this one was no different. He didn’t quite humiliate Southee like he did Mark Wood, by smashing him for back-to-back sixes, but the 36-year-old did collect a hat-trick of fours in a fascinating sequence of play.

After a thick outside edge on the first ball of the 15th over evaded all fielders and went to the left of Glenn Phillips at gully, Southee immediately moved Phillips to where the ball flew. 

Next thing you know, the very next ball flies to where Phillips had been stationed on the first ball. But this one’s a boundary because it goes to the right of Phillips, who’d just been moved to a different spot.

Lyon then made it three in a row by throwing his hands at a wide one that ended up going over and above the slip cordon.

This extraordinary passage of play saw Lyon move from 24 to 36 in the space of three balls. 

He’d earlier already notched up two boundaries, one of them being a glorious pull shot off Southee that almost took the Kiwis aback.  

Lyon might be plying his trade at No.10, but the veteran has turned into a very handy batter for the Aussies. 

The 41 today in Wellington can be added to a list of vital knocks he’s played in the last couple of years, including the 24 in Adelaide last month against the Windies, the 31 in Hobart against England in 2022, and, of course, 16* at Edgbaston last year that helped the Kangaroos pull off an epic heist in the first Ashes Test.

Fair to say, Gazza’s certainly GOATing it with both bat and ball. 

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