Nathan Lyon says retaining the Ashes means a lot for Australia

Australia’s post-match celebrations have come in for criticism after they retained the Ashes at Old Trafford but Nathan Lyon believes his team have “brought a nation together” on the other side of the world.

The tourists marked their 185-run win on day five, which handed them a 2-1 lead going into Thursday’s fifth Test at The Oval, with a raucous on-field party.

It started with renditions of the team song ‘Under the Southern Cross’ and a few more from a portable stereo, but veered towards the boorish as speeches were shouted and chants indulged.

One started with “Who did we beat? England…How did we do it? Easy” and quickly descended into something considerably less savoury. At one stage Steve Smith was seen wearing and rubbing a pair of glasses before shadow batting left-handed in the middle of a team huddle.

The obvious conclusion was that he was unkindly parodying England’s Jack Leach, though an alternative narrative has been offered that he may have been mimicking Chris Rogers – a curious honour, if true, for a man who last played for Australia in 2015.

Ultimately, though, their chosen manner of celebration is no more relevant to the series itself than England players deciding to relieve themselves on The Oval pitch had been when they won the 2013 series.

What matters is the scoreline and the fact that the urn is staying Down Under, a source of considerable pride to the Australia team and their cricketing public.

Australia won by 185 runs at Old Trafford
Australia won by 185 runs at Old Trafford (Martin Rickett/PA)

“You get the chance to come out here and play cricket for Australia and represent your family, friends and everyone back home,” Lyon told the Australian media.

“It’s quite a special moment that a sport can bring a nation together. I daresay that the boys in that changing room have brought a nation together.

“Right now, it probably hasn’t sunk in, but as a kid growing up, and as soon as I got my Baggy Green, the biggest goal in my career has been to win the Ashes away.

“We’re 2-1 up and I want to go 3-1 up, and when we hold the urn up at The Oval it’s going to be an amazing feeling.”

Lyon, who bowled his side to victory in the first Test at Edgbaston, became the butt of a running joke in Manchester as fans routinely mocked a botched run out that would have given Australia victory a week earlier at Headingley.

Ironically cheered every time he caught the ball at the bowler’s end he appeared to be distinctly unimpressed at the time, but said he had tuned out the fans.

“To be honest with you, you hear it for the first over or two then it just becomes white noise,” he said.

“When you’re a professional sportsman, your job is to come out and bowl well, and compete against whoever you’re playing. I didn’t really feel it or hear it at the back end so it doesn’t worry me.”

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