Hampshire Cricket cancel contract of Australian Test star Nathan Lyon

Nathan Lyon has had his contract cancelled by Hampshire amidst the ongoing uncertainly caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Surrey CCC.Nathan Lyon has had his contract cancelled by Hampshire amidst the ongoing uncertainly caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Surrey CCC.
Nathan Lyon has had his contract cancelled by Hampshire amidst the ongoing uncertainly caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Surrey CCC. | Getty Images
Hampshire have become the latest first-class county to cancel the contract of the overseas player they had lined up for the 2020 Championship season.

Australian spinner Nathan Lyon was due to join the club for a significant part of this year’s red-ball season.

However, given the cancellation of all domestic fixtures until May 28 as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it has been mutually agreed he will not be flying to England.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hampshire Cricket Director of Cricket Giles White said: ‘These are obviously very uncertain and challenging times, and it’s clear the issues cricket currently faces will contribute to the way in which counties are able to operate and prepare for this season.

‘As a result of this, and following conversations with Nathan and his management, it was mutually agreed that he would no longer join us this season.

‘I would like to thank Nathan and his representatives for their complete understanding and agreement and we hope to welcome him to the club next season.’

Hampshire were hoping that the addition of Lyon would give them one of the strongest bowling attacks in the top flight of the Championship - complementing seam trio Kyle Abbott, Fidel Edwards and Keith Barker.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Lyon, 32, has taken 390 wickets in 96 Tests for his country, placing him third on the all-time Australian list behind former Hampshire captain Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (593).

But the first six matches of Hampshire’s scheduled 14-game Championship season have already been lost by the decision to suspend all cricket until May 28, and there is obviously no guarantee that games will be played immediately after that date either.

The decision to cancel Lyon’s contract has come after Surrey and Gloucestershire also cancelled the contracts of Australian Michael Neser and Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara respectively.

Elsewhere, Sussex are in talks with Australia's Travis Head, who had been lined up as their overseas professional. Head is no stranger to the south coast having had one season in the Southern Premier League with Ventnor in 2013.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Meanwhile, Sussex and Northamptonshire have joined the growing list of counties to furlough players, following a collective agreement brokered by the Professional Cricketers' Association this week.

But there was also a cautiously optimistic note from Sussex chief executive Rob Andrew.

He believes the more modest wages involved in cricket could help the game bounce back quicker than football or rugby union, a sport in which he served as player, coach and administrator.

‘Yes, cricket has some challenges but you could argue it's got fewer than maybe football or rugby union,’ he said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

‘In those sports the cost bases are driven by TV money and they are driven predominantly in player wages.

‘I can't comment on every county's financial position but I do know there is an absolute will across the 18 counties and the ECB, who have reacted very quickly in this situation.

‘Governing bodies often get a lot of stick, and I have personal experience of that in another sport, but the reaction across cricket has been fantastic.

‘From what I've seen the ECB reaction is going to give cricket the best chance to survive, even in the worst case scenario.’

Lancashire and Surrey have made it clear they do not intend to furlough cricket staff at present. Hampshire have yet to comment on whether they intend to furlough players and staff.