Lyon sets focus on urn, not 400th scalp

Spinner Nathan Lyon says he is more focused on winning the Ashes than claiming his 400th Test scalp.
Spinner Nathan Lyon says he is more focused on winning the Ashes than claiming his 400th Test scalp.

Nathan Lyon insists he won't be entranced by a quest for 400 Test wickets that dominated headlines throughout the previous summer.

Lyon needs just one more scalp to join Shane Warne (708 wickets) and Glenn McGrath (563 wickets) in Australia's 400 club.

Mentions of the key milestone and Lyon's 100th Test, which proved unforgettable for all the wrong reasons after India stormed to a series victory in Brisbane, stalked the offspinner throughout 2020-21.

Lyon, who Warne has predicted could finish Australia's all-time leading Test wicket-taker, says the statistic never "got inside my head".

The offspinner is likewise confident it won't affect Australia's bid to start this summer's Ashes with victory in the Gabba opener that begins December 8.

"You'd be crazy if you weren't aware of it," Lyon said.

"It's a pretty exciting milestone just around the corner.

"It's been on my mind for a fair amount of time.

"But I think it's something where I know what I need to do ... hopefully I'll create a chance and it can be taken, we can move on nice and early in the series.

"I'm more worried about the whole Test series and making sure we win, retain the Ashes."

Lyon also has his mind set on two bucket-list goals beyond this summer.

"Winning a Test series in India and winning a Test series in England," he said.

The tweaker looms as a likely point of difference in the five-Test series.

The 34-year-old is the most experienced member of Australia's squad, while spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach have played a combined 30 Tests but were overlooked throughout England's recent home summer.

"They've got some superstars in their team. Joe Root is obviously the best batter in the world at this stage," Lyon said.

"So we're going to have to absolutely have our plans up to scratch."

The veteran added a near year-long break between Tests had allowed him time to reflect, reset and improve.

"I'm excited about the challenges that lie ahead. I've had a lot of time to work on a few things that I wanted to work on," Lyon said.

"I'm extremely confident with the way my skills are ... pretty excited by the way the ball is coming out of my hand.

"I'm getting some good feedback from Steve Smith."

Australian Associated Press