ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Lyon brushes off crowd taunts, pushes Cup case
Off-spinner revisits role of English provocateur and outlines hopes to return to the UK for next year's World Cup
5 July 2018, 08:15 PM AEST
In the wake of Australia's recent winless white-ball campaign against England, spinner Nathan Lyon believes he remains a chance to play a role in next year's ICC World Cup that will also be staged in the UK.
And Lyon has revealed that he came to enjoy the merciless taunts he copped from British crowds, largely as a result of some inflammatory remarks he made ahead of last summer's Ashes series in which Australia triumphed 4-0.
Lyon, who had not played an ODI for almost two years prior to last month's Qantas Tour of the UK, began the five-match series as the second specialist spinner behind left-arm orthodox Ashton Agar but was selected to play alongside Agar in the final two matches at Chester-le-Street and Old Trafford.
The 30-year-old finished the series with a solitary wicket at a cost of 70 runs from his 17 overs, while England spin pair Adil Rashid (12 wickets at 21.50) and Moeen Ali (12 at 17.25) dominated with the ball.
However, Lyon retains belief that he might yet have a role to play in Australia's World Cup defence that begins on June 1 next year, and not only because of the influence that spinners wielded in recent weeks at venues where seamers have traditionally excelled.
Lyon also believes that, despite limited game time, he performed the task required of him by national selectors and new men's team coach Justin Langer, which was to bring some experience and expertise to a squad that was missing a clutch of first-choice players through suspension or injury.
"I'm pretty confident I did the role I got asked to do," Lyon told cricket.com.au's The Unplayable Podcast this week.
"I think with the World Cup coming up, it's just a great opportunity for a young side heading over there (the UK) to play in those conditions (and) it was the first time a lot of those guys bowled in international cricket over in England.
"It's totally different to bowling in Australia, and I think it was a great opportunity and the guys are going to learn a lot out of that tour.
"The step up from domestic cricket to international cricket is quite a big step, and you've got to be able to focus and perform under pressure when the tables turn and the pressure is right on you to perform.
"That's the best preparation you could ask for. "
Lyon also revisited his role as provocateur when he suggested that England's number-one ranked ODI outfit that has triumphed in all but one of the past 11 ODIs against Australia in the previous two years, and 75 per cent of all their matches over that time, will face pressure to maintain that form.
Particularly heading into the quadrennial World Cup tournament being played on British soil for the first time in 20 years, as likely raging favourites to lift a trophy they have never won at 11 previous attempts.
"They're playing some extraordinary cricket," Lyon said of Eoin Morgan's outfit whose only losses of the past year have come against Australia (in Adelaide last January), New Zealand (twice) and Scotland.
"It will be amazing to see if they can keep that extraordinary cricket up for the next 12 months leading into the World Cup.
"They're a classy side, they've got some world-class players.
"To come up against them in five games was challenging, but it was a great learning curve."
Lyon raised English hackles last summer when he suggested the torment inflicted by fast bowler Mitchell Johnson during the 2013-14 Ashes whitewash - that saw several England players' Test careers finish - might be repeated in 2017-18 by Australia's pace trio Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
Those comments attracted criticism from commentators and past players, and was one reason why Lyon was targeted by English crowds during the recent ODI series, particularly in the first three games when he was consigned to water boy duties.
However, the Test regular whose 306 wickets at the elite level is unsurpassed by an Australian off-spinner claimed he found enjoyment in being targeted by England fans.
And added that it was useful preparation for what the team can expect when they return to the UK for the World Cup followed immediately by a five-Test Ashes series next northern summer.
"I felt like I was the main target of the England (crowd) sledges, especially that I started some stuff before the Ashes last year," Lyon said.
"Walking around The Oval, carrying the drinks, I think I got the whole stand booing me everywhere I went.
"It was good fun, I actually really enjoyed it.
"It must mean they know who you are, so you must be doing something all right.
"The crowd was pretty brutal but that's the English.
"It's white noise really.
"If people are booing you, you must be doing something right or they fear you - that's the way I look at it.
"So I don't mind if people come out and start booing us, it just means they feel threatened by our cricket skills."