STRATHFIELDSAYE veteran Greg Lyon considers himself a loyal person.
And today, that loyalty will be rewarded when he becomes the first Strathfieldsaye player to reach 200 first XI games in the Bendigo District Cricket Association.
Lyon will play his 200th first XI match when the Jets take on Kangaroo Flat at Tannery Lane.
The 41-year-old, who is still one of the fittest players at the club, has had a decorated first XI career at the Jets that began when he made his debut against Sandhurst in round one of the 1988-89 season.
It wasn’t a flashy debut on October 8, 1988, with Lyon, then 17, dismissed for a duck, but he did take a catch in the Jets’ win.
As well as being the most capped player at the club, Lyon is also the Jets’ all-time leading run-scorer with 4146 at an average of 25.2 and has been involved in a club record 339 dismissals behind the stumps as a wicket-keeper.
He’s also a premiership player with the club, has won the Jets’ batting award three times, is a club champion, in 2002 was awarded life membership and in 1999 was selected in Strathfieldsaye’s Team of the Century.
“I really enjoy the club... the company, the people out there, it’s just a very good club to be involved in,” Lyon said this week.
“I’ve always seen myself as a fairly loyal person, so that’s another reason why I’ve stayed out there so long.
“I’m happy to keep fronting up there each year because it’s such a great place to be involved at.”
Lyon has remained loyal to the Jets, despite the club having struggled for success during his career.
Lyon has played in just two finals series for the Jets, with the 2000-01 season the highlight when Strathfieldsaye captured an unlikely premiership.
Having finished third on the ladder, the Jets bowled Kangaroo Flat out for 64 in their semi-final and won by five wickets to set up a grand final against Strathdale-Maristians, who had finished fourth and upset minor premier Bendigo by six wickets in their semi-final.
However, the grand final ended in a washed out draw, and with the Jets having finished higher on the ladder than the Suns, they were crowned first XI premiers for the first and only time since joining the BDCA in 1984.
“That was a special year for the club, for sure,” Lyon said.
Twelve years on from that premiership and having now passed the age of 40, Lyon is showing no signs of slowing down.
In fact, he’s in career-best form and heading into today, has the best batting average in the BDCA with 72.2.
He has scored 433 runs, which includes four-consecutive scores above 50 in his past four innings.
Among Lyon’s past four innings was an unbeaten 102 against White Hills – his maiden century in what was his 197th game for the Jets.
“I’ve struggled to make one or two 50s in a year, let alone string four together,” Lyon said.
“There were a couple of technical things at the end of last season that I worked on with Gunny (captain Ben Gunn).
“I don’t care how old you are, there’s always room for improvement, and if I’m playing A grade then I want to be doing the best I can.
“So I tweaked a few things last year and have continued that on this season.”
With 433 runs and still four rounds left to play, Lyon has already surpassed his previous best of 408 runs in the premiership season of 2000-01.
Lyon’s 200th game today will cap a big week for the Jets, who on Wednesday night won the BDCA’s Twenty20 grand final against Huntly-North Epsom.
As well as his career at Strathfieldsaye, Lyon played junior cricket at California Gully, while he spent three years away from the Jets in the 2000s when living in Queensland, where he played for Caloundra.
Such has been Lyon’s longevity at Strathfieldsaye, second on the list of the most BDCA first XI games is Terry Scullie with a distant 128.