Andrew McDonald has confirmed Nathan Lyon will make his return to the Test arena on Thursday against Pakistan, opening up on the destabilising effect of his injury in the Ashes. Lyon suffered a serious calf injury in the second Test of the Ashes, which ruled him out for the remainder of the series and had some questioning whether he'd retire.
His heroic effort to bat while injured helped Australia take a 2-0 lead in the series, which proved vital as England came back to draw the series 2-2 but saw the Aussies retain the urn. Speaking in Perth on Sunday, Aussie coach McDonald confirmed Lyon will play in the first Test against Pakistan, while speaking about how valuable he is to the side.
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"I'm glad someone noticed we were missing him in the last three Test matches," McDonald said. "He flies under the radar in conversations at times. But we're happy to have him, every time he plays. Externally, at times, he's not recognised as much as he should be.
"It was a huge loss when he went down. It destabilised what we'd normally do. He's been down the other end to those quicks for 100 Tests - important, the way we want to operate.
"He can tie up an end, he can be aggressive when he wants to be, but he makes that attack work, no doubt about that. When he wasn't there, we went through some periods of instability. At times, we looked as though we could manage that. At other times, we didn't."
Nathan Lyon not thinking about retirement just yet
At 36, Lyon is undoubtedly in the twilight of his career. But any suggestions this could be his last home summer have been emphatically denied by the off-spinner.
Speaking last month, Lyon revealed how a Channel 7 promo for the upcoming summer sparked an awkward question from wife Emma. The TV ad declared that the Test summer might be the last time fans get to see the likes of Lyon, David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith all playing together.
While Warner will call it quits after the third Test at the SCG, Lyon said he was surprised to see his name mentioned. “I was very surprised,” Lyon told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Emma, my wife, said ‘have you got something to tell me’, to which I said ‘no’. So I couldn’t believe it, but it’s only promo stuff. I’ve definitely reset some goals and changed the finish line."
Lyon said he's even targeting the next Ashes series in England in 2027 - when he will be 39. “I tell you one thing, I’m definitely not joking about going back to (the) Ashes,” he told SEN radio. “I feel like having this injury, coming home and watching the guys play the three Test matches has really driven me to get back there and make sure I’m back playing cricket.
“My hunger for the game has probably gone to a new level, this has allowed me to have a little bit more time off during my rehab, sit back, reflect and reset some goals and find a really decent purpose for me. I’m definitely not writing off going back to England for the Ashes… the finish line for me hasn’t even popped up in my eyesight yet, I’ve still got a lot of cricket left in me in my eyes and a lot to offer the Renegades (in the BBL), NSW cricket but also Australia.”
On Sunday, McDonald revealed Australia's XI would be very similar to what we've seen over the last 12 months, indicating that tearaway quick Lance Morris won't get a debut. Mitchell Johnson had led calls for Morris to be blooded on his home deck in Perth, but McDonald said: "How do I put this - it (the side) will look the same as it has before."
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