Two days after sustaining a serious calf injury that seems certain to end his Ashes series Nathan Lyon produced a memorable, hobbling cameo at the end of Australia’s second innings at Lord’s – one that was preceded by a similarly brief but unforgettable conversation with Jimmy Anderson in the pavilion. “He asked me am I stupid,” Lyon recalled, “and I said yes.”
Lyon said he had been “absolutely shattered, I’ve been in tears” as he comes to terms with the injury sustained on the second day of what was his 100th consecutive Test, but if it was his final involvement in the series the 15-run partnership with Mitchell Starc, which helped Australia reach 279 and set England a target of 371, was certainly a notable one.
“I wanted to bat. It was my call,” he said. “I knew the risks but I’d do anything for this team and you never know how big a 15-run partnership can be in an Ashes series. I’m proud of myself for going out there and doing that. If it was tomorrow I’d do it again, and I’d do it again and again and again.
“I’m having a meeting tomorrow with our medical team but my focus is to be here with this team and help out as much as I can. Whether that’s just sitting on the balcony clapping – I won’t be running the drinks on, I won’t be bowling, but I’ll be giving my support as much as I can. I’m hungrier than ever right now to get back out there, especially when you see your teammates out there busting their guts, and they’re going to have to do the same thing tomorrow.”
England reached stumps on 114 for four, needing 257 more, with Ben Duckett on 50 and Ben Stokes on 29. “Of course we’re thinking there’s an opportunity to win the game,” said the assistant coach, Marcus Trescothick. “The team is a positive team who sees the opportunities to do things special and do things slightly different.”
Shortly before the close Mitchell Starc dived to catch Ben Duckett cleanly at fine leg only to ground the ball as he returned to earth. Australia celebrated, but the TV umpire spared the batter, and clarification from the MCC that Starc, crucially, was not in control of his movement at the time the ball was grounded did not prevent controversy raging.
While Trescothick admitted “I don’t think I know the rules properly to tell you whether it’s right or wrong”, the former Australia bowler Glenn McGrath raged: “That is the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever seen … If that is not out then every other catch that has ever been taken should not be out.”