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London, June 30 – Australia were dealt with a major injury scare on Thursday when premier off-spinner Nathan Lyon limped off the field while fielding during day two of the second Ashes Test against England at Lord’s.
Lyon, who is playing in his 100th consecutive Test, was running in to take a catch of Ben Duckett off the bowling of Cameron Green in the leg-side after tea, when he pulled up sharply while running towards the ball.
The injury looked so serious that Lyon had to go off the field by taking the support of a member of the Australian team medical staff and shook off in pain while clutching the calf region of his right leg.
A statement from Cricket Australia confirmed Lyon has suffered a right calf injury and would be further assessed after the close of day’s two play. “A further update, if available, will be shared in the morning,” it further said.
“This doesn’t look good. This could be a big moment in the Test match, in the series … he is pivotal in this attack,” former England captain Nasser Hussain said on Sky Sports commentary.
Lyon had completed 13 overs of his off-spin bowling, taking the wicket of Zak Crawley while maintaining an economy rate of 2.69. As the Australia camp holds its breath on Lyon’s injury and his participation in the rest of the match as well as the series, it has drawn immediate comparisons to Glenn McGrath’s ankle injury during the 2005 Ashes.
McGrath had stepped on a ball during the pre-match warm-up at Edgbaston, resulting in a series-ending ankle injury, which proved a turning point in the series.
“If you look at the teams side by side he is the major difference. He gives Australia balance and is a threat no matter what the conditions. It would be a massive loss for Australia. Let’s see but you would have thought he would play little part in the rest of this Test match at least,” said former England captain Andrew Strauss.
His former team-mate Kevin Pietersen also echoed the same views. “You could see from the way he walked around the boundary that he had all the weight on the right side of his foot. I think he has popped a calf and if you pop a calf you are not coming back from that for a while.”
Meanwhile, England opener Ben Duckett, who made 98, feels Lyon will be a huge miss for Australia as the game progresses.
“I think we will be happy to chase on this pitch. You never wish to see someone go down but if (Lyon) can’t bowl in the second innings it is going to be a massive miss for them,” said Duckett.
The ongoing Lord’s Test saw Lyon become the first specialist bowler to bring up a century of consecutive appearances in the longest format of the game.
Lyon, who made his Test debut in July 2011, has also become only the sixth player in the history of cricket to feature in 100 consecutive Tests. Other players in the list are Alastair Cook (159), Allan Border (153), Mark Waugh (107), Sunil Gavaskar (106) and Brendon McCullum (101).
Coincidentally, Lyon has achieved this rare landmark at Lord’s, the same venue where he was dropped in the format for the last time. This was almost a decade ago during Australia’s tour of England for the 2013 Ashes series.