Nathan Lyon says lure of playing with James Anderson drew him to Lancashire

Nathan Lyon admits the chance to bowl alongside Ashes rival James Anderson was part of the reason for his arrival in county cricket.

Lancashire pulled off a major coup by signing Australia’s record-breaking off-spinner on an overseas deal and, despite only touching down in the country on Tuesday, he goes straight into the squad for Friday’s curtain-raiser against defending champions Surrey.

Much has been made of the possibility of Lyon forging a mentor relationship with Tom Hartley, following the slow left-armer’s emergence for England this winter, but Lyon has revealed it was the chance to go into battle with an old adversary that really attracted him to Emirates Old Trafford.

Lyon is the seventh-highest Test wicket-taker of all time
Lyon is the seventh-highest Test wicket-taker of all time (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Anderson, the most prolific seamer of all time, is currently resting up after his exertions in the five-match series against India but the prospect of two greats with a combined 1,230 wickets to their name is already being teased.

“That would be pretty amazing. I’d be lying if I said that opportunity coming around wasn’t a big part of the reason I signed,” he told BBC Radio Lancashire.

“He’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest, fast bowler to have played the game. I’ve had some incredible battles against him. I admire his skill, there’s nothing but respect from my end for what he’s been able to do for English cricket but also world cricket inspiring young boys and girls to play the game.

“If the opportunity comes around that I get to bowl in tandem with him and share a changing room with him it will be pretty special, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Tom Hartley made his breakthrough for England over the winter
Tom Hartley made his breakthrough for England over the winter (Martin Rickett/PA)

Lyon was initially brought in for the entire season, across all formats, but has seen his schedule cut to seven first-class games after a call was made by Cricket Australia over his workload management.

“It’s definitely not my call, that’s nature of the beast,” he said.

“CA have come over the top and said they wanted to manage me and hopefully extend my career. My hands are tied.”

Hartley, who surged to prominence with a match-winning second-innings haul of seven for 62 on his Test debut in Hyderabad, has made it clear he is eager to watch and learn from Lyon during their time together and views his arrival as a learning opportunity.

While that arrangement may mean fewer matches and fewer overs along the way, the New South Wales veteran sees it as more of a collaboration than a competition.

“I’m looking forward to bowling in a partnership, I’m not coming over here to put him out of a spot,” said Lyon.

“I’m coming over fully invested in Lancashire cricket. If (they) want me to work with a couple of spinners, I’m happy to. I’m a cricket ’nuffy’, I love spin bowling and and I want to try and get better.

“I feel helping out some young spinners will help my game as well. Playing 129 Tests or whatever it is, I’ve seen some cricket and hopefully I’ve got some knowledge to share.

“I watched Tom’s debut quite closely, especially after signing for Lancashire. I was pretty impressed with the way he went about those five Tests. I’ve already had some decent conversations with him and I’ve only been here two days.”