Nathan Lyon backs Sean Abbott for Test debut this summer

Jasper BruceNCA NewsWire
Sean Abbott was named in the Test squad for the scrapped tour of South Africa. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Camera IconSean Abbott was named in the Test squad for the scrapped tour of South Africa. Picture. Phil Hillyard Credit: News Corp Australia

Test star Nathan Lyon and NSW coach Phil Jacques have declared that Sean Abbott is ready to make his Test debut in the Ashes this summer.

Abbott has represented Australia at T20 and one day level but is behind the three fast bowlers — Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood — in the red-ball pecking order.

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Abbott was named in the Test squad for both last summer’s series against India and the scrapped tour of South Africa, and if Lyon had his way, he would finally earn his baggy green if one of the big three wasn’t injured before or during the Ashes.

“He’s probably playing the best cricket I’ve actually ever seen him play, bat and ball,” he said.

“I think Sean could stand up and perform at that level.”

Jacques went as far as to call Abbott a “genuine all-rounder” after the 29-year-old hit 154 runs in an intra-club practice match ahead of NSW’s Sheffield Shield opener.

“I think he’s really grown as a player and as a person over the last couple of years. He’s developed into a real, genuine all-rounder now,” Jacques said.

“I think if he’s picked, he won’t let anyone down, that’s for sure. I think he’s totally ready.

“I think he’d really value-add to the team if he was selected for that squad and got an opportunity.”

Lyon conceded that even though James Pattinson announced his retirement from Test cricket on Wednesday, Abbott would still have stiff competition, with Jhye Richardson, Mark Steketee and Michael Neser all looking to be in great form so far this summer.

Neser is often considered the best current Aussie fast bowler never to have played Test cricket, while Steketee, also uncapped, took a staggering 10 wickets in Queensland’s recent match against South Australia.

Richardson, meanwhile, brought up a half-century against Tasmania this week and took three wickets in his first Shield match since November 2019.

“I think there’s enough depth in Australian fast-bowling cricket that we can fill that hole, but it’s a pretty big hole that Patto has left,” Lyon said.

Abbott will have a chance to affirm his Test credentials when NSW meets Victoria at Sydney’s Drummoyne Oval next week in its first Sheffield Shield game of the season.

Lyon is looking forward to ending the longest lay-off of his professional career when he lines up for day one on Wednesday. The 33-year-old hasn’t played a game of cricket since April but said NSW’s training regimen had helped him keep his match fitness up.

“I’m ready to get going,” he said.

“A big shout-out has to go to the NSW government for allowing us to train during the lockdown. We’ve been very fortunate.

“I’m just pumped to be playing Shield cricket next week and looking forward to getting back out there and getting the competitive juices flowing.”

Originally published as Nathan Lyon backs Sean Abbott for Test debut this summer

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