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Lyon joins Warne, McGrath as Aussies with 400 test wickets

A bit of banter from the new captain was all Nathan Lyon needed to end his 11-month wait to move from 399 test wickets and become just the third Australian to hit the 400 milestone.

Lyon didn’t get a wicket in the first innings when England was out for 147 on Day 1 of the Ashes series, and bowled 24 overs and conceded 69 runs without taking a wicket on Day 3 as the tourists rallied to reach 220-2 at stumps, cutting Australia’s lead to 58.

The 34-year-old offspinner admitted it was playing on his mind. Australia hadn’t played a test match since January, and he’d taken only nine wickets in that losing four-test series against India — the masters against spin.

Lyon isn’t usually one to acknowledge milestones, he said, but teammates were joking with him about the length of time between wickets and what he planned to do to celebrate. So he couldn’t ignore it.

Pace bowler Pat Cummins, in his first test as Australia captain since replacing Tim Paine, took Lyon aside after play on Friday to joke about it.

“I said last night, ‘You’re never going to get your 400!’” Cummins, recalling his novel motivational approach for his long-time teammate, said after Australia completed a nine-wicket win on Saturday. “Nice for him to get that this morning. He bowled really well yesterday without luck.”

Lyon laughed, let off steam and, in just the fourth over on Saturday morning, he dismissed Dawid Malan to end England’s 162-run third-wicket partnership and his personal wait since Jan. 19 to progress his career tally from 399 to 400 test wickets.

“There’s been a lot of banter going on so it was probably on my mind more because of that,” Lyon said. “It’s been some hard toil to get it to get it, but it’s very, very rewarding.”

The wicket of Malan, caught in close by Marnus Labuschagne at bat-pad, also ended England’s resistance in the 1st Ashes test. Lyon added three more wickets and returned 4-91 as England was bowled out for 297 in its second innings — setting Australia a paltry target of 20 runs for victory with more than 1 1/2 days to spare.

Lyon joined legspinner Shane Warne, who took 708 test wickets between 1992 and 2007, and paceman Glenn McGrath, who took 563 between ‘93-’07, as the only Australians to surpass the 400-wicket barrier in test cricket.

He’s only the second spinner from outside of Asia — the other is Warne — to reach 400, and he’s the 17th bowler overall across more than 140 years to reach the milestone. The all-time list is topped by Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who took 800 between 1992 and 2010.

Lyon, now with 403 wickets from 101 tests, has mostly been a regular in the Australian lineup for a decade, first emerging in 2011 following a stint working as a curator at the Adelaide Oval.

That, along with the end of a nervous wait, will mean he’s relaxed for the second test against England — a day-nighter at the Adelaide Oval starting Thursday.