Hampshire have pulled off a coup for the 2020 County Championship season after signing Nathan Lyon on a red-ball contract that, international commitments pending, ought to keep him at the club for the entirety of the campaign.
Lyon, who toured with Australia this summer as part of their World Cup and Ashes squads, is arguably the finest offspinner to have represented his country, and certainly the most prolific, having claimed 363 Test wickets in 91 appearances – second among all Australian spinners only to the great Shane Warne.
His 20 wickets in this summer’s Ashes included nine wickets in a matchwinning display in the first Test at Edgbaston (his 6 for 49 sealed victory in the second innings), and in the course of a 2-2 series that ensured that Australia retained the Ashes, he went past Dennis Lillee’s tally of 355 Test wickets to sit behind only Warne and Glenn McGrath in Australia’s all-time list.
“I very much look forward to playing with Hampshire in next year’s County Championship,” said Lyon. “It is a fabulous opportunity to be involved with a leading county who have had a long and successful relationship with Australian cricketers.”
One of those Australians, of course, is none other than Warne, who was Hampshire’s captain in the early 2000s and who still has a stand named after him at the ground.
“I love playing cricket in England and no doubt will enjoy the 2020 summer with the Hampshire players, coaches, members and supporters,” Lyon added. “We will all be focused on winning the County Championship in 2020 – I can’t wait.”
Lyon will play at Hampshire under the captaincy of James Vince – whom he faced on the England tour of Australia in 2017-18 – and will form part of an incisive attack led by Fidel Edwards and Kyle Abbott, the former South African quick whose 17 wickets at the Ageas Bowl in September did so much to derail Somerset’s bid for their maiden Championship title.
He will slot into a Hampshire squad that already features four home-grown spinners, among them Liam Dawson, who was an unused member of England’s victorious World Cup squad, and Mason Crane, the legspinner who made his Test debut against Australia at Sydney in January 2018. Lyon has had one previous stint in county cricket, when he turned out for Worcestershire for four matches in 2017.
Hampshire Director of Cricket, Giles White said: “Nathan is a really high-class spinner and we identified him in the summer as someone who would be a great addition to our Championship side. He has a real appetite for county cricket and is keen to be a part of what we’re trying to do here, so we’re delighted to secure his signature and we can’t wait to have him on board next summer.”