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Tim Paine has been absolutely incredible for Australian cricket: Nathan Lyon

Last updated on 14 Apr 2020 | 12:09 PM
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Tim Paine has been absolutely incredible for Australian cricket: Nathan Lyon

The Aussie spinner opens up on a variety of topics in this interview

Australia's premier spinner, Nathan Lyon earlier in the day had a video interview session where he answered queries on different topics. Here's the entire interview presented in a Q & A format.

How disappointing is it not to play for Hampshire this season?

Lyon: It's a little bit different at the moment. Pretty disappointing that we are unable to get over to Hampshire and be a part of the amazing club over there and hopefully play a lot of county cricket and help them to a championship. That's not the case, we are in a little bit of different circumstances than what we are used to. So it was a pretty easy decision from both the club and myself. Probably the time's not right to head over there, they are not even playing cricket at the moment, little bit disappointing but fingers crossed down the track, I'll be able to forge a great relationship with the club, they have been brilliant in this situation so look forward to the future.

Reasons for choosing Hampshire

I guess so. Throughout our Ashes buildup we spent a lot of time there, which was absolutely brilliant, so there is a lot of goals to go back there and we've had some really good conversations then and there about playing some county cricket. I've got a good relationship with the club and they've got unbelievable facilities to train with. I feel like my game could go to a couple of new levels if I could spend some time there in the county circuit.

Are you worried about the future cricketing schedule?

It's disappointing not heading over to Bangladesh, it was going to be a massive challenge for the Australian cricket team. A place where personally I get challenged as well and somewhere I enjoy playing my cricket. Regarding the scheduling, no doubt, the ICC, Cricket Australia and all the big bosses will do everything they can to make sure we are getting back and playing cricket. It's what it is at the moment. It is out of our control, but it is disappointing and we understand.

Has this break been a lucky one as it has come after the summer has ended?

All industries at the moment are getting affected and we are very fortunate that we had the season we just had. We are effectively on leave at the moment. A lot of the industries will feel the pinch of COVID-19 and it's unfortunate. We'll see how we go.

Thoughts on the World Test Championship?

That's going to be a big decision for the big bosses. I think it's important that the two best teams over that period are competing in the final. I want to be there, I want Australia to be there. I think we are heading in the right direction with a young side that we are building something pretty special I personally believe. That's a decision for the ICC and everyone else involved. We will have to wait and see. The two best sides throughout the competition deserve to be there, fingers crossed that's us.

On the possibility of playing in front of empty crowds

I'm excited about the prospect of India coming out to Australia, it is up there with the biggest series alongside the Ashes. They're an absolute powerhouse of the cricket world. To have those guys out here is going to be fantastic. Playing in front of crowds or no crowds is out of our control. We've got to follow the advice of all the amazing medical people around the world. I haven't thought about no crowds or massive crowds - it's just about the opportunity of playing against India again. They had the wood over us last time they came over here but we're a much stronger side at the moment. I'm just unbelievably excited at the prospect of playing them here at home.

Did the 2014 Adelaide Test change your career for the good?

Every time you head out on the cricket field and perform well, play your role within the side you get a lot of confidence going. Just wasn't that particular day, on day 5 in 2014 that I took confidence out. There was a lot of things throughout that game, throughout that series I was able to take a lot of confidence, but saying that, I feel like I'm a totally different bowler compared to back in 2014 to now, which is an exciting prospect.

Has it been a challenge to just stick to the stock ball?

It has been a challenge throughout my career, in bowling my perfect offbreak every ball, yeah. But I'm a big one for believing in, if you have your self-belief in your stock ball, then hopefully you'll have success. I can sit here and say I'm very confident my stock ball can get anyone out in the world and I truly believe that. I'm very confident with how my stock offbreak is coming out at the moment.

When was the last time cricket took a back seat from your personal perspective? If you also talk to us about how you dealt with that situation and how can you apply that in the current situation?

Can’t really recall when cricket took a backseat in my life at the moment. I’ve been pretty fortunate to play a lot of Test match cricket for Australia throughout the last 9 or 10 years. This is the only real time I feel I can really spend some time with my family here in Sydney, which has been absolutely exceptional to be honest with you. It’s not very often we get to spend this much time at home and have some time with my family, my partner and my two kids, which has been exceptional. You look at the positives at the moment and that’s one big positive for me, to be honest. Can’t really recall the last time I was able to do this.

As such an experienced Test cricketer, you have had a number of captains. Can you sum up what Tim Paine provides as a captain relative to Michael Clarke, Steve Smith or even Aaron Finch in the white-ball?

That’s a good question. In my eyes, Tim Paine has been absolutely incredible for the Australian cricket team. The way he has gone out and led this team has been unbelievable, to be honest. And to watch him grow as a leader. He was a well-respected player when he came back into the Australian setup, but even throughout the domestic competition he has been a very well-respected player in his own right. As he has grown into a Test captain, he is a lot different to the likes of Michael Clarke, Steve Smith and Aaron Finch. But I truly believe he has grown with each and every day. He seems to be getting better. I love playing under him, with the way he is able to use his humour into distracting the opposition or having a little bit of banter – is absolutely priceless. I think the Australian public really respect their team. I’m a massive fan of playing under Tim Paine, that’s for sure. 

Do you think part of that respect or that respect he engenders in the team, how much of that was taking the job on when it couldn’t have been tougher to take on?

100%. I think if you looked around the change-room at that time, Tim Paine is the only real guy in my eyes who really stood up and could take that challenge on. He is absolutely incredible. As I said, he keeps growing as a leader and he did take the captaincy in probably the hardest time of Australian cricket. I think he has done an amazing job with it all. It’s just amazing just to watch and be a part of it. 

In terms of your skill-sets, training in isolation, not having access to proper facility, would you much rather be a spin bowler in that situation because the quicks come off a long run-up, you can practice in the hallway. If that’s the case, have you got another mystery ball that you’re working on?

Always working on a few mystery balls, that’s for sure. I think I’m a little bit more lucky I guess. I’ve been talking to Mitch Starc, Pat (Cummins) and Josh (Hazlewood). Pat’s trying to lift his body calves up with weights. I’m just here doing normal stuff with Tom Carter here in Sydney. A lot more relaxed about my training rather than lifting heavy weights like the quicks. I’m doing a little bit of running and having a little bit of fun like that. But as you said, I am also working on these new mystery balls for this summer.

Any clues?

Hopefully goes the other way. 

The Test – The documentary: One of the revealing moments was you breaking down when you were presenting Travis Head with his cap. I was wondering what it was like to watch that one back?

It was actually quite hard to watch it back, I was sitting in the lounge with my partner Emma (Emma McCarthy) and I had to get up and walk away, because I knew what was happening. But Em had never seen it before. Obviously that was a pretty special moment, probably up there with one of the proudest moments of my career to be honest.  

I am just curious about what you were feeling when you heard the news about Steve O’ Keefe not getting that New South Wales contract. He had a great season. He was probably in line for the Bangladesh tour. How did you react to the news that he will be retiring from New South Wales?

Obviously a little bit disappointed. I was very fortunate enough to spend a lot of summers with Steve and in and around the New South Wales squad. We are always having conversations about spin bowling. I was a little bit disappointed to see that Steve hung up his boots but I think he can be quite proud. He has had an absolutely exceptional career and he has done an amazing job for New South Wales. When he got his opportunity for Australia, he played his heart out there and has had some great success there as well. So, hats off to Socky.

And what do you think of the sort of young spinners coming through New South Wales? There’s someone like Dan Fallins. Are you confident that there is talent there to replace him?

A: Definitely. There’s a bit of depth coming through. There’s as you said Dan Fallins, who has been bowling extremely well. He played some key roles for Sydney Sixers this year. There are some younger guys in their 17s and 19s, which have been prestigious and have come around the scenes at training. It’s going to be a good opportunity for young spinners to put their hand up and hopefully play some first-class cricket this year.      

Just back to the captaincy. How much of a difference has it made to you – a spin bowler – to have a captain at the other end who is the wicketkeeper? You’ve obviously had that with Peter Nevill at New South Wales, famously Brad Haddin captained for a session in Adelaide in 2014. What’s that like as opposed to having Steve or Michael at slip – having that different angle on the game.

That’s a very good point. Tim and I have got a very good relationship. We are very good mates. We tend to ask each other a lot of questions of each other with my bowling or his keeping. I do believe that he is out there with the best ‘keepers I’ve ever bowled to, which obviously helps. It gives me a lot of confidence when I’m running into bowl, but his knowledge of the game and just his pure view from behind the stumps, he knows when I’m bowling well and where I need to improve a little bit in different areas. He has been absolutely exceptional. Even before he took over the captaincy, we had a great relationship and pass on a lot of advice here and there. I’m really happy that Tim’s the captain and I really hope that he goes on for a lot longer.

Do you think of an instance where the relationship between you and Paine helped create a wicket in a spell or a game?

There've been many different cases, I am very lucky that Tim’s got a lot of confidence in my bowling, which obviously gives you more confidence as a bowler to go out there and perform. There were a couple of instances throughout the UAE tour, in Abu Dhabi, early in the first morning of the 2nd Test, he threw me the ball early which turned out to be great as we picked up 5 wickets in that session. I think that is one big key moment where he has had that confidence in me to bring me on early, which is an unbelievable support from your captain.

With the Bangladesh tour not happening, what sort of learning experience would it have been for the young spinners like Mitch Swepson. How much do you think they would have got out of this tour?

A lot, I think it’s just not the young spinners, everyone in the Australian side does. Every time you pull on the Baggy Green, it’s a learning opportunity, especially when you are over there in those conditions, I think it’s just not the young players, everyone’s got the opportunity to learn, so it's going to be big. I am pretty sure that Swepson was there the last time we went there, so he knew what he was going to come up against, but yes, unfortunately we are not going to get that opportunity to head over to Bangladesh in the meantime.

Obviously an amazing Ashes series last year, but what happened at Old Trafford that made you get over Headingley?

Obviously, you’re always going to think about the missed opportunities, but that’s a part of cricket and a part of learning as well and if you can learn from those experiences then you can get better and that’s my goal, I mean I want to become a better cricketer, a better person so that’s all part of it. What helps you get over is seeing Tim Paine lift up the urn. Definitely watched it a couple of times here at home, reliving that moment.

If the India series in Australia goes ahead behind closed doors, how will Kohli’s performance affect or can he adapt to the scenario as he feeds off the crowd?

He’s probably pretty good enough to adapt to any scenario. But I was talking to Mitchell Starc the other day and we actually said that if we are playing with no crowd, it’ll be quite amazing to see Virat trying to rev up the seats. It’s going to be a little bit different, but Virat is a superstar. He’ll be able to adapt to any climate that we’re able to play in.

On his battles with Pujara in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia in 2018/19 in comparison with 2014/15

I think Pujara flies under the radar a little bit when you look at the Indian cricket side. Obviously, you look at Rahane and Virat and these guys, but Pujara is a wall, and he's the new wall I should say, it helps that he played exceptionally well last time out here. He adapted his game, he had a bit of luck which is what you need when you're playing at the top level. He obviously played his absolute backside off. But we have got to make sure that we have to come up with new plans to combat Pujara as he definitely won’t be flying under the radar come this summer.

On the “Amazon Test” documentary, where he hands the cap to Travis Head and mainly about the Headingley Test

Definitely I have watched that, as said, you learn from these experiences to become a better cricketer. I've actually watched a few times to be honest, trying to figure out where I can get better and how I can get better. You get through Headingley, and then you watch Manchester and you watch the joy there, but then you’re able to sit there and watch Tim Paine lift up the urn at The Oval, which has been one of my biggest goals since I started playing cricket for Australia. I wanted to be able to stand at The Oval and make sure that we took the urn home. It was unfortunate that we didn't win the series, but if you said to me that we’d make the World Cup semi-final and that we would retain the Ashes, I would have signed on the dotted line before heading over there. So, it was a pretty amazing experience and something where I've learnt a lot about myself throughout that whole Ashes series.

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