3 reasons why Australia need not worry despite Nathan Lyon's potential absence for the rest of the Ashes series

Shreyas
Nathan Lyon has been ruled out of the rest of The Ashes 2023.
Nathan Lyon has been ruled out of the rest of The Ashes 2023.

Australia were dealt a major blow during England's first innings with the bat in the second Ashes Test match at Lord's when star off-spinner Nathan Lyon trudged off the field with a suspected calf injury.

While he bravely returned to bat in their second innings, Australia were without the services of Lyon with the ball for the rest of the match and did exceedingly well to bowl England out twice in those circumstances and take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Subsequently, he has been ruled out of the remainder of the series with a calf tear, and Australia have a decision to make about their playing XI ahead of the third Test at Headingley. While Lyon's absence is quite a big deal, Australia are unlikely to be too perturbed by it. Here are three reasons why.


#3 The conditions don't favor spinners

The dry and dusty surface in the first Test at Edgbaston turned into a contest between the spin bowlers of both sides. It was a clash between Moeen Ali and Joe Root on one side and Nathan Lyon on the other, with Lyon winning the battle comfortably.

However, we're unlikely to see such a surface for the remainder of the series, and while the fourth Test at Manchester could see something in it for the spinners, the English conditions should see the pacers rule the roost as usual. Only five wickets were lost to spin in the second Test, and two of them were that of tail-enders, and that trend is set to continue throughout the series.

Given how well the short-ball ploy worked against the English batters, Australia could replace Lyon with someone like Scott Boland, and it wouldn't make much of a difference to their wicket-taking output.


#2 Australia don't have trouble picking up wickets even without Lyon

Mitchell Starc picked up some crucial wickets in the 2nd Ashes Test for the Aussies.
Mitchell Starc picked up some crucial wickets in the 2nd Ashes Test for the Aussies.

It was advantage England when Nathan Lyon hobbled off the field with a calf injury in the 37th over of England's first innings in the second Test at Lord's. However, from a comfortable position with Stokes and Harry Brook at the crease, England capitulated to hand Australia a sizeable first-innings lead.

What was also evident was the amount of wicket-taking options Australia possess and England taking the aggressive route only helped their cause. In the recently concluded match, Travis Head chipped in with some useful wickets, but he was their only spin-bowling option after Lyon's injury.

Mitchell Starc took the onus upon himself and delivered the prized wickets of Joe Root, Harry Brook and Ben Stokes in the first innings, with the other pacers also joining the party in the second. While there's no doubt that Lyon is an almost irreplaceable bowler, the fact that Australia managed to pick up 19 wickets without him and win the Test match shows the strength of their bowling unit.


#1 They have an exciting replacement in Todd Murphy

Todd Murphy (center) celebrating after picking up his maiden Test wicket - IND vs AUS, 1st Test, 2023.
Todd Murphy (center) celebrating after picking up his maiden Test wicket - IND vs AUS, 1st Test, 2023.

Todd Murphy grabbed the eyeballs after turning in some consistently good performances on his debut Test tour in the Border Gavaskar Trophy earlier this year. Nathan Lyon's dominance has meant that he has been Australia's first-choice front-line spinner for a long time, and his lack of injuries up until now has given very limited opportunities to other spinners in red-ball cricket.

However, there was a need to play an extra spinner or two on the rank-turners in India, and when called upon, Murphy duly delivered with calmness and accuracy beyond his age. He picked up 14 wickets in four matches at a good average of 25.21, serving as an able understudy to Lyon.

The Aussie great has backed Murphy to come good in the remainder of the series and handle the pressure of the Ashes. We're all set to see a dream Ashes debut for the 22-year-old at Headingley.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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