The Public Apology chief editor and renowned showman, Dave Edwards, recently called on test spinner Nathan Lyon to “sex things up” and weirdly, “put some Barry White on, and fuck around a bit.”
It is an attitude that not only speaks volumes on Edwards’ lothario lifestyle, but is indicative of exactly where Australia has gone wrong with their spin bowlers since the end of the Warne-era.
I, for one, strongly disagree with Edwards and his notion that spin bowling needs to be sexy. Glancing down the list of the top ten Test spin bowlers in terms of wickets taken is – Shane Warne aside – anything but sexy. Muttiah Muralitharan. Anil Kumble. Derek Underwood. These are not sexy men. Was there anything more boring than watching Anil Kumble bowl? The fact that man took ten wickets in one innings should be proof enough that spin bowling does not need to be sexy!
Shane Warne and his delightful Playboy panties may have fooled us into thinking otherwise for a while, but he was an anomaly. Brilliant, yes, but certainly no pioneer, as the failed experiments that were Colin “Funky” Miller and Jason “Crazy” Krejza attested.
In desperately searching for another “Warnie”, Cricket Australia ignored years of solid evidence that spin bowling does not need to be sexy in order to be effective. When they finally gave up and begrudgingly settled on Lyon, I do not believe it was a coincidence that Australia’s Test ranking once again began to climb.
He provides the foundation for our pace bowlers to do the damage, and occasionally, on a wearing pitch, can tear through batting orders and win us Test matches. Could we ask for any more? Certainly, but to do so would be greedy and fraught with danger.
And what is sexy anyway? It is largely subjective. Edwards seems to consider it something marketable and flamboyant. Cricket Australia would no doubt agree, as exemplified in their ongoing love affair with the Big Bash*. I personally feel it is something entirely different.
Part of Edwards’ sexy plan called for Lyon to name his ‘mystery’ balls, but I would argue that Lyon’s unwillingness, whether down to country boy modesty, as Edwards suggested, or not, only serves to make those balls all the more mysterious. Do you think James Bond would name his deliveries? Lyon’s cool, calm and reserved nature is more fucking Bond-like than doe-eyed country boy.
But it is in fact Lyon’s country charm and modesty that most appeals to me. It is no doubt why Michael Hussey named him to lead the team song when he retired. He is a rarity in this world where actual good old fashioned values, like politeness and helping a friend out, are declining more rapidly than the average IQ of a breakfast radio host, and thus his importance to Australian cricket goes far beyond the playing field.
Nathan Lyon is the quiet guy who always turns up to your birthday, gets happily drunk and helps clean up the next day. On the flip side I reckon you could also easily go out and have three or four beers with him and happily call it a night. Two shouts each, a good catch up, and then home to your loved ones and no hangover the next day.
If Shane Warne** didn’t ditch you at the first sight of an insecure female in a miniskirt, you just know you’d end up catching a cab to Kings Cross at 3am as he desperately tried to score some coke or a blowjob. Two days later you’d wake up naked and hogtied in a hotel room in Canberra, wondering how the fuck you got there and whether you would rather call for help, or die from dehydration and save yourself the embarrassment.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it is certainly not a wholesome end to an evening.
In the next test match Australia plays, Nathan Lyon will most likely take his place as Australia’s highest wicket taking off-spinner. He only needs five wickets to do so and surpass Hugh Trumble’s 100+ year old record of 141.
At a sprightly 27, he may just go on to join the elusive 300 club. Slowly toiling away on a career that is more Scotch Whiskey than Alco-pop, and if you ask me, that is fucking sexy.
By Alasdair McClintock
* Something I absolutely loathe, but must begrudgingly accept has been successful – but at what cost?
** This is not necessarily what I imagine the average night out with the actual Shane Warne would be like, more a caricature of the man, although…