I’d do it again and again and again – injured Nathan Lyon proud of batting cameo
A dejected Nathan Lyon admitted he had been in tears about his likely series-ending calf injury but was proud to play one final part in the second Ashes Test after a gutsy cameo with the bat on day four.
Lyon sustained a significant calf tear on the second day and has been on crutches since, but defied the pain to walk out as last man during Australia’s second innings on Saturday afternoon.
Australia’s frontline spinner limped on to a standing ovation and bravely batted for 25 minutes in a 13-ball innings of four that saw the tourists move on from 264 for nine to 279 all out, which set England 371 to win.
“I have been absolutely shattered, I have been in tears, upset and I have been hurting, but this team means everything for me,” Lyon reflected after England closed on 114 for four, still requiring 257 runs for a series-levelling victory.
“Yes, I have been having conversations since it happened with our medical team and I knew the risk. But the way I look at it, I will do anything for this team and you never know how big a 15-run partnership can be in an Ashes series.
“So, yes I am proud of myself for going out there and doing that.
“If it was tomorrow, I would do it again and again and again because I love this team, I love playing for Australia.”
Lyon was on crutches at the start of day four but in an extraordinary sequence of events in the afternoon session, he started to make his way through the pavilion down to the pitch when Pat Cummins was out to leave the tourists on 261 for eight in the 96th over.
With the 35-year-old in major discomfort every time he walked, Lyon hopped down the stairs and waited in the long room at Lord’s until Josh Hazlewood’s dismissal brought him to the crease.
Before his courageous innings, Lyon encountered England veteran James Anderson, who was off the field at the time.
Lyon added: “I have played against Jimmy for a long period of time now and I have a lot of respect for him. He asked, ‘Am I stupid? And I said, ‘Yes, but I may have to do a you and go to 40.’
“He said, ‘if you keep loving the game and keep trying to get better there is no reason why you can’t,’ so that was a nice little moment with Jimmy.
“Regarding batting, I had to go down to the long room and wait because I would have been timed out otherwise. The lifts here are pretty slow so I had to go down the stairs, I didn’t know how long Josh would hang in there for.
“It was interesting being in the long room, rather than being in the pavilion. It felt like I was in the zoo. A lot of eyes on me, watching what I was doing, what we were saying but I will do anything for this team.”
Ahead of his surprise cameo, speculation had started about whether Lyon would pad up and to what benefit.
Former England captain Kevin Pietersen was not alone among broadcast pundits in suggesting that Lyon taking a blow to the helmet may benefit Australia if it allowed them to bring in Todd Murphy as a concussion substitute.
Pietersen described the scenario as “food for thought” on Sky Sports, but Lyon was deeply unimpressed by the suggestion.
Lyon’s friend and team-mate Phil Hughes died in 2014 after being hit by a bouncer in the neck and the spinner vehemently shut down the notion.
He said: “I have heard comments that people thought I went out there to get hit on the head and I am really against that.
“I lost one of my mates due to being hit in the head so I think that is a really poor excuse or conversation to be had.”
While Lyon would not confirm his Ashes was over, he backed reserve spinner Murphy, 22, to leave his mark on the tour.
Australia’s chief spinner Lyon, who was playing his 100th consecutive Test, will have a meeting with the team’s medical staff on Sunday over the best course of action for his rehabilitation.
“This is just a little speed bump in the road, this is not career-defining or anything like that,” Lyon stated.
“I am sitting down with our medical team tomorrow and we will have a chat. Right now, it is pretty shattering, pretty gutting and I am pretty speechless if I am honest.”