Nathan Lyon eager to take his game to ‘new levels’ by making Hampshire debut in 2021

Australian Test spinner Nathan Lyon remains hopeful of taking his game to ‘new levels’ by making his Hampshire debut in 2021.

Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 10:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 12:47 pm
Nathan Lyon celebrates a wicket while playing for the Sydney Sixers earlier this year. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.

The 32-year-old was meant to play a key role in the county’s 2020 Championship campaign.

However with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic delaying the start of the season until at least May 28, the deal had to be cancelled.

At a video press conference today, Lyon - his country’s third highest Test-wicket taker with 390 in 96 appearances - said the decision was a mutual one.

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‘Obviously we're in a little bit different circumstances to what we're used to so it was a pretty easy decision from both the club and myself here that probably the time's not right to head over there," he said.

"It's pretty disappointing that we're unable to head over to Hampshire and be a part of that amazing club over there and play a lot of county cricket and hopefully help them on the way to a championship but it's not... meant to be.’

Lyon called his time spent training at Hampshire during Australia's Ashes campaign last summer ‘absolutely brilliant’ and said he believed a stint with the club could help take his game to ‘new levels’.

‘There is a lot of goals to go back there,’ he said.

‘They were absolutely brilliant to me. We had some really good conversations there and then about potentially coming over and playing some county cricket.

‘They've got some unbelievable facilities there to train with and I feel like my game could go to a couple of new levels there if I was hopefully able to spend some time over there in the county season, so I look forward to the future.’

Hampshire director of cricket Giles White said on Friday that he hopes ‘to welcome (Lyon) to the club next season’.

Lyon would have added a world class spin option to a seam attack which was one of the best in the Championship’s top flight in 2019.

Kyle Abbott (71), Fidel Edwards (48) and Keith Barker (37) bagged 157 wickets between them.

That was far more than champions Essex’s top three seam bowling wicket-takers managed (114), and also more than runners-up Somerset’s top three (116).

But Hampshire spinners only managed 23 between them in 14 games - Liam Dawson (10), Felix Organ (8) and Mason Crane (5).

Compare that to Essex, where skipper Simon Harmer was the leading wicket-taker in the division with 83.

At Somerset, Jack Leach (34) and Dom Bess (19) also provided the Test-quality slow bowling options that Hampshire lacked.

Now the hope is that Lyon can take his place in a vastly-experienced bowling attack at The Ageas Bowl in 2021.

By the start of next season, Abbott will be 33, Edwards 39, Barker 34 and Lyon 33.

Lyon is obviously no stranger to English conditions having played in three Ashes series in 2013, 2015 and 2019, as well as for Australia A against the England Lions in two Tests in 2012.

He also had a four-game Championship stint with Worcestershire in 2017, but only managed six wickets in four Division 2 matches at 67.16.

He also knows at least one of Hampshire's squad well – he played alongside captain James Vince when the Sydney Sixers won the Australian T20 Big Bash earlier this year.