Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon said that he already has one eye on the Ashes in November and insisted that he is using the ongoing Shield games to gauge the behaviour of left-handed batsmen. On Saturday, Lyon, representing NSW, claimed his second five-wicket haul across the last five innings.
Nathan Lyon had an extremely disappointing tour of India, twice failing to bowl the Indian batsmen out on Day 5, but he has been a man on a mission ever since returning to domestic cricket. In his first Shield game in the restarted season, Lyon took an impeccable 10-wicket haul and in the ongoing game versus South Australia, the 33-year-old picked up a five-wicket haul in the first innings, taking his tally to 17 wickets across the last five innings.
However, for Lyon, these games mean more than just boosting his numbers or getting back to form. Speaking to cricket.com.au, the off-spinner revealed that he is using Shield games as an opportunity to learn ahead of the Ashes. Lyon revealed that he has keenly been observing how certain left-handers set-up against him, and claimed that the information will be useful come December, where he will be bowling to a plethora of English southpaws.
"The way that Jake Weatherald batted is very similar to the way the Poms are probably going to look to play me off the back foot, and the same as Harry Nielsen," Lyon was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
"They don't want to get caught on the crease, so there's a few areas in the game where I'm trying to learn and adapt in Australian conditions. If you look at the Ashes, from the last three Test matches over in England, a lot of lefties played me off the back foot.
"There's a challenge there for me to bring the stumps into play, so I'm definitely thinking about it (the Ashes). Who isn't thinking about it?"
Lyon, who is one shy of 400 Test wickets, was taken apart by the left-handed Rishabh Pant in the series against India, but despite having come back from a slump many a time in the past, the 33-year-old is of the opinion that there is always an avenue to learn and improve. He asserted that he is currently enjoying bowling in Shield cricket and claimed that he has singled out a few things he would like to ‘learn’ ahead of Ashes 2021/22.
"When you come across the way the left-handers are playing me – take Travis (Head) and Alex (Carey) out of it because I've bowled to them a lot, so they know how to play me pretty well," Lyon said.
"But understanding the way that Jake (Weatherald) and Harry Nielsen have gone about it, if you look at the footage I don't think there's much of Jake Weatherald wanting to come on the front foot. So when you come across any left-hander it's a good chance to learn.
"I only really had one to bowl at across the whole summer with Rishabh Pant, but I'm enjoying bowling here. I'm very happy with the way they came out, and there's always room for improvement. There's a few things I want to work on leading into the Ashes next year, but I'm pretty happy. And also pretty tired."