Sports

The head-scratching case of Nathan Lyon’s constant non-selection

As Australia's Twenty20 team prepared for the first game of its series against New Zealand and England, Nathan Lyon was getting ready to captain the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra.

Despite his standing as a dominant Test bowler after a world-best 63-wicket year in 2017, Lyon is still unable to crack into Australia's squads for 50- and 20-over internationals.

The latest snub was being left out of the squad for the five-game Twenty20 series against two of the country's greatest rivals, starting on Saturday at the SCG.

Selectors preferred left-arm orthodox spinner Ashton Agar and leggie Adam Zampa to Australia's premier off-spinner.

Australia's Adam Zampa celebrates the wicket of Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews in Dambulla

It continued an apparent campaign to make Lyon a red-ball specialist — a cage that he is keen to break out of.

"All three formats is my goal, there's no point hiding behind that," he said.

"That's part of my personal goals, so it's up to me. The ball's in my court if I'm being honest.

"I [have to] go out and perform well and make the selectors make a hard choice. As a professional cricketer that's my job."

Lyon's current plight is an unfortunate reminder of the early stages of his international career, most of which he spent getting sporadically dumped for part-timers and inferior spinners.

Nathan Lyon looks on during the Adelaide Test

Even as Australia's ODI side floundered in its 4-1 series loss to England, Lyon was still not called upon as they searched for a wicket-taker.

"I don't really change my approach to bowling," he said.

"With my bowling it's pretty simple — try and take wickets and try and spin up the back of the ball — it's no rocket science behind my bowling."

It is not as if he is devoid of white-ball credentials.

In his 13 one-day internationals, he has an average just a tick under 35 (better than Agar and on par with Zampa) and his economy rate of 4.93 is the same as Mitchell Starc's.

Nathan Lyon celebrates a wicket for Sydney Sixers against Brisbane Heat

He also has an elite Big Bash League record, with his 15.2 strike rate and 6.8 economy rate both among the best in tournament history. And yet, he still only has one international T20 over to his name from two years ago almost to the day.

Barring an injury, Lyon will not have a chance to play for Australia again until the Test side reconvenes for a trip to South Africa, which just played host to an increasingly rare phenomenon — a bowlers' series.

"I believe the Australian bowling attack at the moment is probably the best bowling attack in the world," he said.

"So it's going to be one hell of a series with those two bowling groups going at each other."

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