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Giles White Hopeful of Nathan Lyon Joining Hampshire CCC

Giles White Hopeful of Nathan Lyon Joining Hampshire CCC
Giles White Hopeful of Nathan Lyon Joining Hampshire CCC

Hampshire director of cricket Giles White is hopeful that Nathan Lyon will be able to join the south-coast county in the future, after the Australian Test star’s contract was forced to be postponed.

Off-spinner Lyon, who has taken 420 international wickets, was due to arrive at the Ageas Bowl this week ahead of a season-long stint in the County Championship and the now non-existent opener against Kent, which was due to begin this Sunday.

But because to the uncertainty around the county cricket season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the diminishing of red-ball cricket this summer, Lyon will no longer jet over in 2020.

“He’s been brilliant to deal with and he totally understood the situation," White said.

“We had adult discussions around his contract and where the season was heading, so it was mutually agreed between his agency, himself and the club.

“We felt the best thing to do for now is to postpone this contract and hopefully we'll see him again in the future.

“That's going to be dependent on the Future Tours Programme and his availability, amongst other things, but I'm hopeful that we'll see him hopefully next year. If not, we'll certainly see him again in the future.

“He's still positive about coming over and playing county cricket and I'm very positive about him coming over playing for Hampshire.”

If there is an opportunity for domestic cricket played this season, the ECB has announced that white-ball cricket, in particular the Vitality Blast and The Hundred will be prioritised.

Therefore, Shaheen Afridi’s planned arrival for the Blast is still being assessed.

White remains confident that the Afridi name will once again emblazon the back of a Hampshire shirt at some point – following unrelated namesake Shahid’s successful spell during four seasons at the county.

“There's a lot of unknowns around Pakistan touring and he's obviously an integral part of their setup,” White said.

“So, we'll just have to see what the tournament looks like and the positioning in the calendar before we can see whether it's possible to have him with us.

“He’s a very exciting prospect. We're really excited about having him with us at Hampshire. And if it does turn out that he isn't with us this year, then hopefully we can look to get him back.”

Left-arm pace bowler Afridi took 13 wickets for Lahore Qalandars in the recent Pakistan Super League, before the tournament was curtailed at the semi-final stage.

White managed to get out to the sub-continent to watch his recruit first-hand.

“He bowls with really good pace,” White said. “That was the bit that impressed me more than anything. I wasn't aware of just how quick he is.

“He was outstanding throughout the period I was there. He had a real influence on games and it was very exciting thinking he was coming over to Hampshire.

“There is a buzz about him. He's a young man but has been given a lot of responsibility in terms of his cricket, being a leading bowler with Pakistan in all formats.

“He's an exciting prospect but in the next couple of years he could become a really significant player on the international scene if it continues the way he has started.”

Like everyone, White is unsure what the next couple of months will bring both inside cricket and beyond it.

But from his lockdown base, he has kept contact with Hampshire's players and staff, along with the wider cricket community, through Zoom and Teams - while attempting to make sense of the situation and plan for the resumption of sport.

He said: “I’m trying to avoid making assumptions and take it step-by-step but of course, our mindset is on what could be and to internally try to work out what the season might potentially look like.

“At this stage, I don't think anything's off the table. It's just a case of being able to react and adapt as soon as we know what the shape of the season might look like.

“Everyone seems pretty healthy, well, and in good spirits but the longer it goes on, the more frustrated I think we're all going to get.

“It's been nice to keep in touch other directors the cricket. It's great to sort of tap into each other to find out what other clubs are doing and, and work through things together as a group.”