The 2019 Ashes is remembered mostly for Ben Stokes's heroics at Headingley and Steve Smith's Bradman-like batsmanship over the course of the series. But it could've easily made a villain out of Australia's premier spinner Nathan Lyon when the spinner missed an easy run-out chance of Ben Stokes in the third-Test with Australia needing only one wicket.
At the start of the third Test, Australia were leading 1-0 and was at the cusp of a 2-0 leady when Ben Stokes played the innings of his life, scoring 135* and stitching a 76-run last-wicket partnership with Jack Leach. However, Nathan Lyon missed a sitter when he failed to grab hold of the ball with Leach stranded half-way down the pitch.
In the fourth match as well, when an Australian win looke certain, the lower order of the England line-up persevered and took the game into the last hour. But a Josh Hazlewood delivery trapped Craig Overton to secure a 185-run victory for the visitors. Remembering the incident, Lyon was quoted by cricket.com.au, saying:
"It was one of the most nerve-wracking things I've been involved in, even though we knew it was out... I just remember that everyone was looking at the screen behind me, and I was facing the other way. As soon as it went red, if you look at the photos I've got Travis Head in my arms before he knew what was happening."
He stated that it was the biggest highlight of his playing career when Australia returned home from England with the Urn for the first time since 2001. Lyon stated:
"It is one of the biggest highlights of my career, when we were able to stand up there as a team and lift up the urn at The Oval (after the final Test)."
Lyon revealed that former captain Steve Waugh's hilarious take on the incident helped him get over the terrible miss. According to him, Waugh asked Lyon to take it in the stride and in a positive manner and move on with the game. He explained:
"Steve Waugh sent me a message straight after. He just said 'Oh well, think about the positive – you're going to make a lot of money doing speaking gigs when you finish playing, you can put so much mayo on that story'."
In an interesting turn of events, right after the run-out chance, Lyon had the opportunity to get Stokes' wicket when he got him stranded right in front of the wicket but Australia were already out of reviews by then. He said:
"He found a way to break the ice, and made me look at it in a different way. It was one of those things. I could have been the quickest Australian sportsperson to go from villain to hero – in the space of about 3.2 seconds, which is about the time it took from me dropping the run-out to hitting Stokesy on the pad in front of middle stump... But that's cricket, isn't it."
Also see – World Test Championship points tablePublished 07 Nov 2019, 22:59 IST