Lance Morris.
Lance Morris looks likely to miss his dream home Test debut. Image by Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS
  • cricket

Lyon, Starc to keep Morris waiting for Test debut

Roger Vaughan December 11, 2023

Nathan Lyon’s return and confirmation of MItchell Starc’s fitness mean there will probably be no dream Test cricket debut this week for West Australian paceman Lance Morris.

Australia coach Andrew McDonald expects the side will look “the same as it has before” for the first Test against Pakistan from this Thursday at Perth’s Optus Stadium.

Commentator Mitch Johnson had called for Morris to debut in his home state.

But McDonald said Starc had “calmed our nerves” after he came out of the Ashes series with injury concerns, which had lingered during the one-day World Cup.

“His ability to get himself through the World Cup and then to present in really good order here has calmed our nerves around what the summer looks like,” McDonald said.

“At the end of the Ashes, there might have been some concerns about how much he could take on during the summer, but (he has) presented himself in really good order.

“(I am) really confident he’ll progress through the summer.

“(The Ashes) is a long way behind all of us and (we’re) really looking forward to the West Test.”

Mitchell Starc.
 Mitchell Starc appears poised to play against Pakistan from Thursday in Perth. Image by Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS 

While Starc and his fellow pacemen will try to exploit bounce in the Perth pitch, Lyon is also a crucial inclusion.

It will be Lyon’s first match for Australia since he suffered a serious calf injury in June during the second Ashes Test.

With Lyon out of the side, Australia had two losses and a draw on their way to retaining the Ashes 2-2.

McDonald wryly noted the lack of focus on Lyon’s return in the lead-up to the first Test, which will be officially launched on Monday at Optus Stadium.

“I’m glad someone noticed we were missing him in the last three Test matches,” McDonald said of Lyon’s injury.

“He flies under the radar in conversations at times.

“But we’re happy to have him, every time he plays. Externally, at times, he’s not recognised as much as he should be.”

Nathan Lyon.
 Nathan Lyon looks set for a comeback in Perth after tearing a calf muscle in the Ashes. Image by Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS 

McDonald said Lyon’s role in the Test attack was crucial, regardless of whether the conditions suited his spin bowling.

“It was a huge loss when he went down. It destabilised what we’d normally do,” McDonald said.

“He’s been down the other end to those quicks for 100 Tests – important, the way we want to operate.

“He can tie up an end, he can be aggressive when he wants to be, but he makes that attack work, no doubt about that.

“When he wasn’t there, we went through some periods of instability. At times, we looked as though we could manage that. At other times, we didn’t.”