They call him the GOAT. Because numbers don’t lie.
Nathan Lyon has played 110 Test matches and taken 438 wickets for Australia. He’s the Greatest of All Time among off-spinners in the 145-year history of Australian international cricket.
And last Wednesday, on a cricket journey that’s taken the 34-year-old to the Caribbean, the Taj Mahal and Buckingham Palace, Lyon found himself at Moore Park with the children of Sacred Heart Primary School in Mona Vale helping launch ‘Play Cricket Month’, an initiative by Cricket Australia.
Looking around the field, in the shadows of the mighty Sydney Cricket Ground, and at dozens of young, eager faces, Lyon said “this is where your journey starts”.
“Cricket has been everything for me. Growing up in the country [Young, NSW], when I started it was called Kanga Cricket. Now it’s the Woolworths Cricket Blast.
“The principle is the same. This is where you learn your basic skills,” Lyon said.
Yet more importantly, according to Lyon, junior cricket is “where you make friends for life and that’s the biggest thing about it”.
“Cricket is a sport for all. It doesn’t matter how you go about it or anything like that.
“It’s about coming out here and having some fun.
“That’s the best thing about cricket,” Lyon said.
Ashleigh Gardner agreed. The 25-year-old all-rounder and veteran of 49 ODIs, 60 T20Is and three Test matches said that “cricket is a fantastic game for kids.”
“You get out into the sun with friends on a Saturday morning, what more could you want as a little kid?
“I was like most other Aussie kids in the backyard playing cricket with my brother and my dad.
“As soon as dad recognised that I had some sort of ability he signed me up for my first team when I was 6 or 7,” Gardiner said.
Gardiner said she was one of the only girls on a boys’ team. But she “absolutely loved it because the boys were always that little bit better than me so they always challenged me”.
“But having an older brother was also super-challenging as well, knowing that we had some fierce challenges in the backyard.
“But I’m really happy with how I got into cricket,” Gardiner said.
To get into cricket head to PlayCricket.com.au and find a club in your area.
To promote your sport, club and/or local hero in these e-pages, as Cricket Australia have here, support the local journal that supports local sport via the BuyMeACoffee app here.