After Nathan Lyon bravely hobbled out to help eek out 15 runs for Australia despite a serious calf injury, English cricket great Kevin Pietersen suggested he only did so to get hit in the head.
If Lyon was hit in the head while batting and concussed, due to the ICC’s laws he could have been substituted out for a like-for-like replacement – meaning spinner Todd Murphy could’ve come in and bowled in the fourth innings.
It was a suggestion that did not sit well with Lyon, given the trauma the Aussie side had to go through when prodigious opener Phillip Hughes tragically died after being hit by a bouncer.
Lyon, who was playing in his 100th Test in a row, is now not likely to play any further part in this series after he seriously tore his left calf muscle while fielding on day two at Lord’s.
Pietersen, who has copped enormous criticism for his commentary online during this Ashes series, surmised that Lyon took the field with such a serious injury in order to potentially earn Australia a concussion substitute.
Nathan Lyon, pictured on crutches prior to day four at Lord’s, courageously hobbled out to the wicket to bat, helping Australia get an extra 15 runs
English great Kevin Pietersen surmised that Lyon took the field with such a serious injury in order to potentially earn Australia a concussion substitute
The comments did not sit well with Lyon, pointing out that one of his close mates, Phillip Hughes (left, pictured celebrating a wicket together in 2011) died after being hit in the head by a bouncer
‘I think [taking] time out of the game and also eking out every single run,’ Pietersen said on Sky Sports broadcast as to why Lyon hobbled out to bat.
‘[But] Imagine if he [Lyon] had been hit on the head and got concussion, he’d have got a like-for-like replacement and a world class spinner [Todd Murphy] … it gives food for thought.’
A clearly emotional Lyon was fuming after the match upon hearing about Pietersen’s comments.
‘I have heard comments that people thought I went out there to get hit in the head, and I’m really against that because I’ve lost one of my mates due to being hit in the head,’ he said, referring to the tragic death of Hughes.
‘So I think that’s a really poor excuse or conversation being had.’
Lyon was just metres away from Hughes on November 25, 2014, when he was felled by a Sean Abbott bouncer while playing for South Australia against NSW in a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG.
He collapsed onto the turf and never regained consciousness, with the popular star dying in front of his teammates. Lyon and David Warner were two of the first players to get to him, before he later died in hospital.
Phillip Hughes, who became the youngest batter to hit two centuries in the same Test (pictured, 2009), lives on in the memories of his ex-teammates
The sporting world was thrown in mourning when Hughes went down at the SCG. He never regained consciousness after being airlifted to hospital
The entire Australian sporting community was thrown into intense grief and mourning – including Lyon, who will never forget that tragic day.
‘I was about ten metres away from Phil when he got hit that day. The memories are obviously pretty fresh, and obviously he was a pretty good mate of mine and an unbelievable teammate as well. It’s one of those things you’re not going to let go,’ he said on the Ordineroli Speaking Podcast in 2020.
So it is understandable a commentator raising the idea that being hit in the head would be a good thing for Lyon and Australia would provoke a high level of emotion.
Fans – who have taken aim at Pietersen’s commentary throughout the series so far -were also quick to blast the English great.
‘It seems pretty ridiculous to me to suggest that anyone would try to deliberately engineer a concussion sub. Particularly not Australia given what happened to Phil Hughes,’ one wrote on Twitter.
‘Sorry, but KP suggesting that Australia sent Nathan Lyon out there thinking he might get concussed so they can sub in a spinner is bloody obscene,’ said another.
‘Pietersen spouting utter s**t conspiracy theories about Australia sending Lyon out to hopefully get concussed, thus enabling a replacement spinner,’ commented a third.
Fans were quick to slam Pietersen’s insensitive comments on the broadcast
That was far from the only thing Lyon was emotional about.
The 35-year-old, who is just four wickets away from his 500th in Test cricket, is the ultimate team man who has bowled more than 5220 overs since making his debut in 2011.
And he is now facing the prospect of not being able to take the field for the rest of the series – which is set to go right down to the wire.
‘I have been absolutely shattered. I have been in tears, I have been upset, I have been hurting,’ he told reporters after the day’s play.
‘That shows this team means everything to me. And I will start this rehab journey now to get back and play my role and keep loving what I am able to do.
‘I’ve got a decent tear in my right calf. It is pretty obvious. I am sitting down with our medical team tomorrow and we will have a chat about that.
‘Pretty shattering, pretty gutted. Pretty speechless if I am being honest. But I have a lot of confidence in that changeroom and just thrilled to be part of this team.’
Australia were able to eek out an extra 15 runs thanks to Lyon hobbling to the crease, with the courageous tail-ender even managing to hook Stuart Broad for four.
But he was clearly in significant pain to do so.
The star Aussie spinner was in significant pain – but he said he would ‘do anything for this team’
Lyon talks to Stuart Broad (left) out in the middle during Australia’s innings on day four
So hobbled was Lyon, he had to wait for his turn to bat in the iconic Lord’s Long Room amongst fired-up English fans because he would’ve taken too long to get to the middle from the dressing room.
‘I would have been timed out. The lifts here are pretty slow, so I had to go down the stairs,’ he said.
‘It was interesting being in the long room rather than the pavilion waiting to bat. It was like being in the zoo, a lot of eyes were on me watching what we were doing, what we were talking about. But I’ll do anything for this team.
‘I knew the risks. But the way I look at it, as I said before, I’ll do anything for this team.
‘You never know how big a 15-run partnership can be in an Ashes series. I’m proud of myself for going out there and doing that.’
That 15 runs could indeed be crucial, with the match yet again precariously placed heading into the final day.
Ben Stokes (29*) and Ben Duckett (50*) are at the crease, with 257 runs required.
If Australia can take the remaining six wickets, and continue the momentum Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins generated with some searing spells to close out day four, the side will go up 2-0 in the series – leaving England a mountain to climb.