Men's Ashes 2021-22
Lyon expecting Stokes to play a role in the Ashes
Despite Ben Stokes not being named in England's Ashes squad, Nathan Lyon is expecting the allrounder to feature this summer
21 October 2021, 02:43 PM AEST
Nathan Lyon is tipping Ben Stokes to make a late play at being part of the Ashes this summer as speculation continues to swirl about Australia's Headingley tormentor.
Stokes has not played at any level since July because of a finger injury and mental-health reasons.
The gun allrounder, whose capacity to win a Test with bat or ball was perhaps best reflected by his snatching of an astonishing victory over Australia at Leeds in 2019, was left out of England's 17-man Ashes squad.
England coach Chris Silverwood has repeatedly avoided putting any timeframe on Stokes' return, saying last week "there will be no pressure from me for him to rush back".
Stokes has remained silent about the topic but, in the past week, created headlines by posting videos of him batting and bowling in the nets.
"I'm expecting him to come," Lyon said.
"I hope he is. You want to play against the best players in the world.
"Stokesy is the best allrounder in the world. He's an x-factor, a game changer, and you want to play against these sort of players."
Lyon suffered a concussion scare earlier this week, having "headbutted the ground" in a fielding mishap that drew blood and forced him to miss two days of NSW's intra-squad match.
But the off-spinner, who needs one Test wicket to celebrate the 400th scalp of his career, is on track to play next week's Marsh Sheffield Shield clash against Victoria at Sydney's Drummoyne Oval.
Lyon was overlooked for this year's limited-overs tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh, meaning he hasn't played since losing the Shield final in April.
The veteran has put the time to good use, working on variations while contemplating how to get the better of England's batters in the five-Test series that begins at the Gabba on December 8.
"A couple of mystery balls, always got a couple of mystery balls," he quipped.
"That's been the beauty about this pre-season, it's been my first ever proper pre-season.
"I've been able to do a lot of fitness work and a lot of skills work.
"I've already started looking at a couple of England's batters, so that's exciting."
Lyon pointed to Matt Parkinson as the only surprising omission in England's touring party but noted the leg-spinner would be in the country as part of the England Lions squad.
Lyon, who memorably expressed hope Australia could "end some careers" prior to the 2017-18 Ashes, took a diplomatic approach when asked about England's support cast for run glutton Joe Root.
"They've got some very talented batters early in their Test careers," he said.
"Look at Ollie Pope's last red-ball game. He got a pretty big double-hundred.
"It's going to be a different challenge for these guys, coming out to Australia and we want that.
"We want to challenge these guys for long periods of time."
Vodafone Men's Ashes v England
First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Perth Stadium