Already Australia’s best offspinner in terms of wickets- earning him the Greatest Of All Time nickname from teammates – Nathan Lyon overnight surpassed Richie Benaud as the second-best spinner in Australian Test history, behind Shane Warne.
And Lyon joined an exclusive group, becoming just the eighth Australian to notch 250 Test wickets.
While it’s unlikely he’ll ever come close to Warne’s 708 Test dismissals, overtaking Benaud is still a huge feat for a player whose spot in the side has rarely seemed assured.
After struggling during a 3-0 series loss in Sri Lanka, Lyon was on the cusp of being dropped in the recent summer.
But changes to his technique which netted him 19 wickets during this year’s tour of India paid off, with Australian coach Darren Lehmann backing him as the squad’s “premier spinner”.
A humble Lyon said it was a special achievement to surpass Benaud, a beloved figure in Australian cricket.
“I’ve always said that I’m not about personal success but I woke up to a message from my mum and dad,” Lyon said.
“They said ‘go out and do us proud’.
“You get those type of messages, and you reflect on your career and where you stand in the game – it’s pretty special.
“Richie Benaud was an unbelievable legend of Australian cricket and cricket in general.
“To overtake him in the wickets column is something pretty special and I hold it pretty close to my heart.
“No doubt when I get back home after this series, I’ll sit down with my family and have a drink and celebrate that personal goal but let’s just see how this Test match goes first.”
And that hangs in the balance, with Australia’s hopes of averting disaster in Dhaka resting on the shoulders of Steve Smith after a calamitous top-order collapse left Bangladesh on top in the first Test.
The visitors went to stumps on day one at 3-18, having earlier bowled out Bangladesh for 260 with a disciplined performance in oppressive heat and humidity.
The good work of Lyon, Pat Cummins and Ashton Agar, who snared three wickets apiece, was undone within 10 balls that Australia would dearly love to get back.
David Warner was the first to fall, trapped LBW on eight by teenage offspin prodigy Mehedi Hasan in the fourth over.
Warner had successfully reviewed an LBW decision on the previous delivery, but there was no doubt the second time around with the vice-captain succumbing to another subcontinent defeat.
Usman Khawaja was run out the following over after an ill-judged attempt to sneak a single, while nightwatchman Lyon lasted five balls before departing for a duck.
Smith will resume alongside Matt Renshaw today with the Australians in desperate need of a saviour.
The skipper is a proven performer on the subcontinent, averaging an astonishing 71.28 during the tour of India earlier this year to cement his status as the world’s premier Test batsman.
Lyon declared that the game remained in the balance.
“It’s not ideal losing three wickets but that’s the game,” Lyon said.
“You’ve got to give them credit, they batted well, they bowled well. Now it’s our chance to fight back and really test ourselves in these conditions.
“We’ve got two very, very good batsmen (at the crease)… we’re just going to have to work hard, bat well and bat long in partnerships.
“There’s no demons in that pitch as yet so it’s a good opportunity for our batters.”
Speed demon Cummins earlier defied the draining 75 per cent humidity with a lethal opening spell to leave Bangladesh reeling at 3-10.
Star batsmen Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal turned the game in the hosts’ favour with an aggressive 155-run partnership.
Part-time spinner Glenn Maxwell broke through before tea to have Tamim – who belted three sixes off the bowling of Lyon – caught by Warner at backward point on 71.
Lyon then claimed the big wicket of Shakib, who was caught by Smith at first slip on 84 off a delivery which spun sharply away from the left-hander.
Recalled left-arm spinner Agar chipped in late to finish with three wickets in his first Test since 2013.
MOST TEST WICKETS TAKEN BY AUSTRALIAN SPINNERS
- Shane Warne, 708 wickets
- Nathan Lyon, 249*
- Richie Benaud, 248
- Clarrie Grimmett, 216
- Stuart MacGill, 208
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