Nathan Lyon knew right away that his calf injury was Ashes ending but isn't sure when he'll be able to return to the field
'I've just blown my calf to bits': Lyon sheds light on injury
Nathan Lyon has revealed he knew his Ashes campaign was over the moment his right calf tore at Lord's accompanied by a sickening sound he likened to a "little gunshot".
Lyon, who returned to Australia after the second Test and is hopeful he will be fit for the start of the Australia domestic summer in late September, has also shed light on his decision to bat in his team's second innings at Lord's against the advice of skipper Pat Cummins and medical staff.
The 35-year-old was playing his 100th consecutive Test when he ripped his right calf late on day two and was subsequently ruled out of the remainder of the Ashes series.
He admits he has found the experience of dealing with the first injury setback of his 12-year international career "pretty shattering" and claims his teammates are now good-naturedly querying if he can rightly claim to have played 100 consecutive Tests given he was sidelined before game's end.
Speaking on 'The Willow Talk Podcast' today, Lyon revisited the dramatic moment that preceded a couple of incendiary days of the second Test that included his brave 26-minute stint at the batting crease when he was targeted by England's fast bowlers despite being essentially immobile.
"I actually tried to get the spider-cam moved just before that ball and tried to get Chris Gaffaney the umpire to move it," Lyon said of the lead-up to his injury.
"Then I went back and (England opener Ben) Duckett played the pull shot, got a top edge and I went to take off and I just heard this little gun shot and just felt it go straight away.
"I knew straight away my series was done there and then.
"I felt it straight in the calf.
"I was confident I would have caught that catch if I was able to push off my right foot.
"I remember Uzzie (Usman Khawaja) running over saying ‘what’s up … you got a cramp?’ and I said ‘nup, I’ve just blown my calf to bits’.
"The emotions set in, then I sat in the changerooms for the next three and a half days."
While laid up in the pavilion, Lyon found it difficult to watch events unfold and barricaded himself in the umpires' room where he watched the British Formula One grand prix on television as England skipper Ben Stokes launched a brutal day-five assault on Australia's bowlers.
But he did haul himself into the shared lunch room on crutches shortly after the controversial stumping of England batter Jonny Bairstow who he claimed "had a few words here and there" during the break, shortly after the Lord's members had unleashed on Australia's players.
While he wasn't in the line of fire for the invective unleashed by the blazered Marylebone Cricket Club members, Lyon noted the atmosphere in the Australia dressing room as the players entered for lunch on day five was "quite remarkable".
"Everyone was gobsmacked but found it hilarious because you walk through that Long Room and you’re more chance of getting sued than punched," Lyon said, reflecting on the social standing of most MCC members.
"It was actually quite interesting.
"Jamie Cox, who used to be part of South Australian cricket and a (Australia) selector and obviously Tasmanian Cricket, he’s now over at the MCC (as assistant secretary) and I was out the back at Lord’s talking to him.
"And I actually had an older lady come up to me in tears, and English lady … from the main Members’ area, and she said 'I’ve got to go home, I just want to apologise to you Australian cricketers for the way everyone has acted inside Lord’s'.
"I just told her 'don’t worry about it, we’re all okay we’re not worried about getting sledged'.
"But it hit home for me that Ashes cricket can affect so many people in different ways and just the actions of people can hit so many different people as well.
"It was a nice moment but an awkward moment with the lady in genuine tears about it all."
Lyon acknowledged that the severity of the tear to his calf was instrumental in his decision to bat in Australia's second innings at Lord's, where he added a crucial 15 runs for the final wicket with his close mate Mitchell Starc.
The eventual winning margin of 43 runs underscored the value of that partnership but getting out to the middle was no easy task given he could not place weight on his right leg and he knew it would take him several minutes to hobble down the two flights of stairs from the dressing room to the middle.
On his previous visits to and from the rooms after his injury, Lyon had used the service lift located within the pavilion, but it was notoriously slow and he couldn't risk relying on it when Australia's ninth wicket fell on Saturday afternoon.
But having spent 10 minutes practice batting outside Australia's medical room to convince staff he was not at risk of being struck if he went to the middle, Lyon felt prepared for the short-ball barrage that awaited.
What did take him by surprise was the vehement opposition voiced by all except men's team coach Andrew McDonald when he signalled his preparedness to bat if needed in Australia's second innings.
"Em (Lyon's wife, Emma) was over there with me and I said that morning ‘just so you know, I’m going to bat if required’ and she just looked at me and said 'you are an absolute idiot - I’m helping you in the shower and everything like that, you’re an idiot," he revealed.
"I went to the ground, spoke to the medical team in the morning, they said 'nah, you’re not batting', so I went to Pat (Cummins) and Pat said 'you’re not batting, Gaz, get it out of your head.
"I went to Ron (McDonald) and said 'I am batting' and he goes 'good, I’m thinking the same thing.'
"So Andrew McDonald was the one who said yep, and I said 'I need you to talk to the medical team', so he went to talk to the medical team.
"I knew the risks, I couldn’t (injure) it any worse.
"If it was a minor tear, I probably wouldn’t have gone out to bat understanding we had a decent break and may have missed the third Test and be right for the fourth and fifth Tests.
"But I knew I was out for the next 10-12 weeks, so I took a couple of tablets, got strapped from my knee down, couldn’t move my foot at all and hobbled out, stood in the Long Room and waited to bat."
Having not suffered a soft-tissue injury since making his Test debut in Sri Lanka in 2011, Lyon can't be definitive about the recovery time from his calf tear.
However, he is mindful that – at his age and knowing how calf injuries have a habit of becoming chronic in senior players – he won't be pushing himself to get back and playing even though New South Wales' first Marsh One Day Cup commitment is barely 10 weeks away.
The Blues' first Marsh Sheffield Shield fixture is October 4-7 against Queensland, and they are scheduled to play six first-class matches prior to the opening NRMA Insurance Men's Test at Perth Stadium from December 14.
"The positive thing about all this is I’ve got a lot of time," said Lyon, who remains on 496 Test wickets following his truncated Ashes campaign.
"The next Test match that Australia will be at home is mid-December against Pakistan.
"I’ve got plenty of time… to make sure we do the rehab and we do it properly so it’s not a recurring thing.
"I’ll definitely get some (Sheffield) Shield in (but) I’m not going to say I’ll be right for game one.
"Ideally I’d like to play that, but I’m not going to push it."
2023 Qantas Ashes Tour of the UK
First Test: Australia won by two wickets
Second Test: Australia won by 43 runs
Third Test: England won by three wickets
Fourth Test: Wednesday July 19-Sunday July 23, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: Thursday July 27-Monday 31, The Oval
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David Warner
England squad: Ben Stokes (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Dan Lawrence, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Josh Tongue, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood