The last time Nathan Lyon headed to England for an Ashes series, he was on the road to being overlooked for a teenage bolter in Ashton Agar.
Fast forward two years and there’s no doubt about Lyon’s place in the Australian team going into the upcoming campaign against England.
On Friday at Jamaica’s Sabina Park, Lyon surpassed a 111-year-old record to become the most-prolific offspin bowler in the nation’s history.
The 27-year-old passed Hugh Trumble’s mark of 141 Test wickets as Australia took a stranglehold on the second and final Test against the West Indies.
Lyon’s 3-35 lifts him to 144 Test scalps, helping Australia reduce the Windies to 8-143 at stumps on day two, still a whopping 256 runs behind the tourists’ 399.
It was a proud day for the 27-year-old.
Lyon says he’s heading to England a different man from the one who was surprisingly axed for the first two Tests of the 2013 campaign in favour of Agar.
“I’m a lot more confident now,” Lyon said.
“I feel I can keep growing and stuff. With England having a lot of left-handers, I’m pretty excited, to be honest.
“It’s going to be a great challenge.
“I’m pretty proud (of the record). It’s a big moment.
“It’s a big record to break. Hopefully, I can add to it.”
Lyon’s impact on the day’s play came early, as he was thrust into the attack after just six overs.
Michael Clarke’s decision to throw him the near-new ball paid instant dividends as he removed Kraigg Brathwaite (4) and Darren Bravo (14) to overtake Trumble and reduce the hosts to 3-25.
Lyon then celebrated one of the more bizarre dismissals of his 41-Test career.
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin caught an outside edge off youngster Shai Hope (26) between his thighs in a fortunate, and funny, wicket.
“It was one of those things – you just take it whenever,” Lyon said.
“I was just hoping he wasn’t going to jump up and let it drop out.”
Lyon’s early breakthroughs allowed paceman Josh Hazlewood to set up a big finish to day two.
Hazlewood picked up three wickets, including the big scalp of Jermaine Blackwood (51) late in the day, to put Australia well on the path to a 2-0 series victory.
Hazlewood’s 3-15 means the 24-year-old paceman has eight wickets for the series at an astonishing average of 8.13.
Earlier, Steve Smith missed out on his maiden Test double hundred after being agonisingly dismissed for 199.
Smith was trapped lbw by impressive Windies quick Jerome Taylor, who finished with a career-best 6-47 on his home ground.
It’s the third time an Australian has been dismissed on 199 in Test history after Steve Waugh in 1999 and Matthew Elliott in 1997.