‘Ruthless’ England fans make it Lyon’s den
Australia spinner Lyon knew what to expect from the crowd on Saturday
Australia spinner Nathan Lyon was not surprised by the “ruthless” reaction from England fans to Steve Smith and David Warner.
The pair were greeted frostily at the Ageas Bowl during their side’s World Cup warm-up victory on Saturday, their first appearance against the English since the end of their one-year bans for ball tampering.
To no great surprise, there were audible boos, jeers and chants of “cheat” – a backdrop they may need to become used to as the competition progresses and then gives way to the Ashes.
Neither man seemed to fret over the welcome, Smith with a match-winning 116 and Warner making 43, and Lyon was far from shocked by what he heard.
“It was as expected – they’re ruthless over here,” he said.
“I’ve had two Ashes tours and a one-day series over here and haven’t experienced anything else. They’re ruthless and there’s not much love. They haven’t changed their lines in the last 12 months.”
England cricketers going back several generations might be surprised at Lyon’s characterisation, particularly given the heckling that takes place Down Under.
Lyon himself has form, playing provocateur in 2017 when he talked of ending English careers and rounded on former wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
He was not inclined to repeat that performance in Southampton but is more than ready for a summer of hard-fought cricket.
“I’m very competitive and I don’t think I’m going to change very much,” he said.
“I will play the cricket I’ve always played and make sure I wear my heart on my sleeve. I will be competing against whoever we’re playing.”
The 31-year-old off-spinner was the most economical bowler on show against England and landed the important wicket of Ben Stokes clean bowled.
“Ben Stokes is one of, if not the best one-day all-rounder in the world and I rate him extremely highly,” said Lyon.
“He’s an absolute superstar of the game so to have those battles out on the field that’s why.”
Australia wrap their preparations against Sri Lanka on Monday, before their opening group game against Afghanistan five days later in Bristol.