Among spin bowlers who have taken more than 250 wickets, Vettori is alone in this, but among bowlers who have taken less wickets there are a few others. Here's the list of regular spin bowlers who started their careers post 1978 and who have a second innings average higher than their first innings average.
|Name||First innings wickets||First innings average||Second innings wickets||Second innings average||difference|
|Shakib Al Hasan (Ban)||78||30.74||28||38.50||-7.76|
|SLV Raju (India)||57||28.50||36||34.22||-5.72|
|DL Vettori (ICC/NZ)||226||33.07||134||36.70||-3.63|
|Abdul Qadir (Pak)||151||32.19||85||33.88||-1.69|
|NM Lyon (Aus)||52||32.23||32||32.69||-0.46|
It's a fairly short list, but the interesting thing is the last three names on it. Vettori and Qadir are two outstanding bowlers. But they both have quite similar records to Nathan Lyon.
I thought it would be interesting to look at the three bowlers together, after they had all played the same number of matches as Nathan Lyon has:
|1st innings (24 matches)||Deliveries||Runs||Wickets||Avg||S/R||E/R|
|2nd innings (24 matches)||Deliveries||Runs||Wickets||Avg||S/R||E/R|
We can see that Vettori started off his career more conventionally, being more effective in the second innings. But the thing that stands out to me is how much more effective Lyon is at taking wickets than either of the other two. His strike rate is remarkable. (To put his strike rate in context: at the same stage of his career Warne had a strike rate of 67.4) Lyon's overall average and strike rate is also better than Vettori's or Abdul Qadir's was after 24 matches.
It seems that the Australian selectors and public are still somewhat unconvinced by Lyon, but I think that if he can hold his own in a comparison with Vettori and Abdul Qadir, then he is probably a bowler worth persevering with.