Lyon eyes 'unique' skillset boost for 2027 Ashes goal

Australian off-spinner eager to further his understanding of bowling in England during seven-game county stint

Every wicket: Evergreen Lyon storms past 500 milestone

Nathan Lyon has reaffirmed the 2027 Ashes are firmly on his radar with the Test great eager to further his understanding of English conditions during this year's county campaign with Lancashire.

Lyon landed in Manchester earlier this week ahead of Lancashire's season opener against Surrey, which begins on Friday. The off-spinner will be available for seven of the club's first nine County Championship matches.

It will be the 36-year-old's second foray into county cricket after a month-long stint with Worcestershire in 2017, and with no Test cricket until November, Lyon said 2024 presented the perfect opportunity to learn from his Ashes rivals.

"I've got basically no cricket until October when the (Sheffield) Shield season starts back with NSW and then the first Test match is in November in Perth," Lyon told the Willow Talk podcast before departing for the UK.

"I looked at this opportunity to take the family over there and experience living in the UK for a little bit, but also to try and improve my skillset a little bit as well.

"There is another Ashes Test series away from home still on the radar, and trying to win that is one of my goals, so I can go over there and learn and understand how the English guys go about it.

"Playing in their set-up is going to be really unique for me to see what a county game plan is.

"And I'm more than happy to pass on my knowledge (to) also help a couple of spinners over there if they want help."

Lyon breezed past 500 Test wickets during the Australian summer and has vowed he wants to "win Test series in India and England" in 2027 since returning from a serious calf injury that brought his 2023 Ashes campaign to an end after the second Test.

Now up to seventh on the all-time wicket-taker's list with 530 following 34 wickets in seven Tests against Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand, Lyon also boasts a formidable first-class record in the UK.

While his four matches with Worcester in 2017 yielded six wickets at 67, Lyon has claimed 59 scalps at 29 in 16 Tests on English soil.

Signing with Lancashire also sets up the tantalising prospect of bowling in tandem with the all-time third-highest Test wicket-taker James Anderson, who at 41 is set to feature in a handful of county matches in preparation for England's home international summer.

But Lyon's presence also gives Lancashire a selection headache after young left-arm spinner Tom Hartley's impressive debut Test series in India earlier this year.

The 24-year-old, who was catapulted into the lead role following a series-ending knee injury to Jack Leach on the first day of the first Test, finished as England's leading bowler in their 4-1 series loss with 22 wickets and a best return of 7-62 on debut.

Lancashire captain Keaton Jennings said even if Hartley had to miss out, he was still going to learn a "huge amount" from Lyon.

"It puts myself and (Lancashire coach Dale Benkenstein) in a really tough situation for (the first game)," he told the Wisden podcast ahead of the season.

"When we made the signing last year, you can't foresee what’s going to happen in six months' time (when) you've got such a high quality (player) available.

"You've got arguably the best off-spinner the game has seen, Tommy is going to learn a huge amount from that guy."

Despite early season county pitches generally favouring the seamers, Lyon is hopeful he'll get a chance to play alongside Hartley during his extended stay in England's north.

Hartley was England's leading bowler with 22 wickets during their five-Test tour of India // Getty

"I'm looking forward to getting over to Lancashire and meeting Tom, bowling with him and just having discussions – left-arm orthodox and right-arm offies are a pretty similar craft," Lyon said.

"I'll be pretty cool – I'll bowl from Jimmy Anderson's end and he'll have to come from the changerooms. (I'm) looking forward to having a couple of games with Jimmy, which would be pretty unique – he's over 700 Test wickets, I'm over 500, it's pretty amazing."

Australians in the 2024 County Championship

Durham: Scott Boland, Ashton Turner (T20s only)

Essex: Daniel Sams (T20s only)

Glamorgan: Marnus Labuschagne

Gloucestershire: Cameron Bancroft, Beau Webster

Hampshire: Michael Neser, Ben McDermott (T20s only)

Kent: Xavier Bartlett, Wes Agar

Lancashire: Nathan Lyon

Leicestershire: Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris

Northamptonshire: Chris Tremain

Somerset: Matthew Renshaw

Surrey: Sean Abbott

Sussex: Nathan McAndrew, Daniel Hughes