After a year of few ups and many downs, Nathan Lyon has never felt more ready to step out from beneath Shane Warne’s considerable shadow.
Lyon was bestowed the honour of singing the team song – then dumped out of the team on the spin-friendly wickets of India.
He fought his way back as the starting spinner by the fourth Test in Delhi of that 4-0 sweep, but by the Ashes series in England, he was on the outer again.
This time he was replaced by a kid, Ashton Agar, who’d barely had the chance to cut his teeth in first class cricket.
It was hardly the timeline of someone who was looking to buck the trend and avoid the graveyard of Australian spinners in the post-Warne era.
But, to start 2014, the 26-year-old’s spot has never been more secure.
He finished the Ashes whitewash with 19 wickets, enjoyed the honour of taking a scalp in every single innings of the series and passed 100 Test wickets.
But what of the burden of being the man to truly take over as Australia’s long-term spin option from Warne, who retired in January 2007?
“I’m getting over that; I’ve played 30 Test matches now,” Lyon said.
“He’s the world’s best spinner and he’ll be the world’s best spinner in my book.
“For me to come in and fill his shoes, it’s been a massive honour and a massive role to play.”
He said he was proud what he’d done so far, but that there was more work to do.
Lyon has worked tirelessly with his mentor John Davison, the Australian spin coach who travelled with the team during this Ashes series.
He says his time with Davison helped him overcome the rocky patches he encountered in 2013.
“John Davison obviously plays an important role in my bowling and my career,” he said.
“It was pretty important to have him around.
“Going through those ups and down in England.
“Being left out of the side and being put back in it.
“I want to make that spot my own. And I was lucky enough to have the support of Davo.”
Make your contribution to independent news
A donation of any size to InDaily goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. South Australia needs more than one voice to guide it forward, and we’d truly appreciate your contribution. Please click below to donate to InDaily.