London: When Nathan Lyon was plucked from nowhere to tour Sri Lanka eight years ago no one would have envisioned he could one day be one day spoken about in the same breath as the legendary Dennis Lillee, least of all himself.
Even the fact he has now joined Lillee on 355 Test wickets, with only Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (563) ahead of him on the all-time Australian list, hasnt changed Lyons view on that.
“I really struggle to see myself up with the likes of Warne, McGrath, Lillee,” Lyon said after equalling Lillees tally on the second day of the second Ashes Test at Lords.
“It doesnt sit well with me. In my eyes those guys are true legends of the game and Im just some bloke trying to bowl off breaks and trying to make Australian fans proud of the Australian cricket team. It hasnt really settled down with me yet, but I am sure I will have a message from Mum and Dad.
“Ive always said I am not about personal milestones or personal achievements, its about winning Test matches and Test series for Australia. I havent really had the time to sit back and think about it. I wasnt really aware of it until walking off and [Australia media manager] Brian [Murgatroyd] told me. He came up and shook my hand and hes the only one who has done it.”
Australias most prolific off-spinner – nicknamed the GOAT among teammates since he surpassed Hugh Trumbles 141 wickets in 2015 – is now simply one of the countrys greatest bowlers and, at 31, he potentially has half a dozen or so years ahead of him to build on his already lofty status.
The understated Sydneysider from Young via Canberra and Adelaide doesnt seek the acclaim but the numbers tell their own story.
"Every day I wake up, I try and get better,” Lyon said. "Whether it's batting, bowling, fielding, I try and get better and try and improve my cricket game.
"I feel like I can still get better, I still feel like I'm learning about bowling, about batting, about fielding. I feel like I'm still in the learning stage, I dont think I've hit my peak yet to be honest, of my career.
“I'm very confident with the way the ball's coming out of my hand, dont get me wrong. And I'm very happy with where my skill-set is at, I just feel like I can get better."