Nathan Lyon says Australia are out to ‘end careers’ of England players in the Ashes
Off-spinner believes many in the visitors’ squad remain haunted by the performances of Mitchell Starc from 2013-14 series
Australia are out to “end careers” for England players in the upcoming Ashes tests, spinner Nathan Lyon has said, pointing out how the tourists finished their last visit in disarray.
Lyon recalled the devastation caused by left-armer Mitchell Johnson in 2013-2014, when he took 37 wickets with his ferocious fast bowling as the Australians inflicted a crushing 5-0 home series defeat.
Ahead of the first test in Brisbane from Thursday, the off-spinner said many in the England squad remain haunted by Johnson’s assault, taking aim at captain Joe Root who was axed for the final test in Sydney.
“I know Root got dropped last time when he was here, so it’d be good to get him dropped again wouldn’t it? If we can start by opening up that crack, it’s pretty crucial,” Lyon said.
“There’s a lot of scars for the English guys, especially coming over here, especially when we have two guys bowling 150 kilometres [93mph], not just one now,” he added, referring to Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.
On the 2013-2014 tour, Jonathan Trott was sent home with stress-related illness after the first test, while Graeme Swann abruptly retired mid-series.
Coach Andy Flower was sacked following the Ashes thrashing and wicketkeeper Matt Prior was dropped for the last two tests, with Lyon claiming he was “scared”.
“Leading into Perth we knew … Matt Prior wanted to fly home before the game started and he was one of the senior players,” said Lyon, one of three players remaining from that side.
“He was scared. It’s four years ago. I think he’s all right now.”
Asked if he thought his team could repeat the devastation that ended careers on that tour, Lyon said: “I hope so. I didn’t end any careers. Mitchell Johnson ended them.”
English keeper Prior laughed off the taunts.
“If that was the case and I was scared, why didn’t I go home then?” he told Britain’s Daily Mail.
“That’s completely ridiculous and all I can do is laugh. It’s wholeheartedly untrue. I stayed out there and what hurt me more was that I got dropped for the last two tests.”
Meanwhile, Australia vice-captain David Warner has said he will undergo intense treatment on his neck after suffering sudden pain during training on Tuesday.
The opening batsman injured his neck while taking a high catch on the Gabba outfield, and later left for the dressing room to get treatment.
“My neck is quite stiff,” Warner said. “I took a high ball and something just twinged in my neck. I haven’t really had a stiff neck like this one before.”
The 31-year-old said he was hopeful his neck would “settle down in the next 24 to 48 hours”, adding: “I don’t think a sore neck is going to keep me out.”
“I’ll try and have a hit tomorrow at some stage. I have to work on my technique a little bit more, probably facing up,” he said.
“I’ll get some more treatment tonight, get some heat packs, get some fingers into it and hopefully it’s better tomorrow.”
Warner added that he left the net session later on, as the neck issue meant he was not able to take his usual stance.
“If I can’t be face-on, there was no point in hitting because I can’t angle myself,” he added. “That’s not how I want to train.”
Warner is a key member of Australia’s Ashes team and averaging almost 60 at home. He is due to open with debutant Cameron Bancroft.