The Capital of Australia is a sleepy, administrative town. Unlike most cities in the country it doesn't have a real sporting culture. The Australian Capital territory don't even play in the domestic first-class league Sheffield Shield, they are instead in the second rung League.
The only cricketer to emerge from this nick of the woods was ODI specialist Michael Bevan, who had to move to Sydney early in his career. There is, however, one player whom the ACT have adopted as their own.
When you enter the Manuka Oval, you see cutouts of Nathan Lyon articles pinned on notice boards all across the venue. Having played all his first class cricket for South Australia, the connection could be lost on many. Talk to the curators, however, and you understand why they love Australia's next big spin hope.Apprentice curator
Curators play a big role in the success of spinners. In Lyon's remarkable story, a curator played a more pivotal role in his development than just preparing a pitch that turns square.
Manuka Oval head curator Brad van Dam remembers the first time Lyon, who hails from the tiny town of Young, 100km from here, came to him. "He was seventeen, and he'd just completed schooling. He wanted to pursue cricket as a career, but was intent on making a living for himself. So he asked if he could complete his four-year apprenticeship as a pitch curator under my wing. I readily accepted."
Lyon juggled both jobs well. With some help from another curator, Michael Sangston, who was his contemporary, Lyon had another job on his hands. "I introduced him to his girlfriend, who was the sister of the girl I was dating. We went out on many double-dates. In fact the only reason I see him despite his busy schedule is because whenever he comes to meet his girlfriend, the four of us go out for dinner," says Sangston.
After completing his apprenticeship he moved to the Adelaide Oval, where he took up a job as pitch curator. Soon, South Australia coach Darren Berry saw something in the young tweaker. "Here, he was very, very raw. He had such a huge leap his knee would almost touch his chin when he delivered. In four years here he was average, four months there and he's playing first-class cricket, and then Tests."