After Nathan Lyon’s injury, Todd Murphy gets ready for the Ashes

After Nathan Lyon's injury, Todd Murphy considers making his Ashes debut

At Headingley this week, Todd Murphy anticipates conflict from the audience and the England batsmen on two different fronts.

Murphy, who made his debut earlier this year in India and participated in all four games of the series, is in line to take Nathan Lyon’s place, whose streak of 100 straight Test matches has been broken by the calf injury he suffered at Lord’s.

When Alex Carey stumped Jonny Bairstow, the hostile audience that had been assembled for the game became so enraged that it caused terrible disturbances to break out inside the Long Room when the Australian players were accosted at lunch.

Given the short three-day turnaround and the fact that the series has now moved to a location famed for its boisterous atmosphere, it is unlikely that the passions of the home crowd will be dampened.

When Murphy takes the field this time, he expects the experience to be very different from the emotional and boisterous crowds he faced during his first series in India.

“They made a lot of noise but were all quite friendly,”

he said.

“From speaking to the boys, this is probably the most hostile ground you get in England. I’m quite looking forward to it if I do get the opportunity, having grown up watching Ashes cricket. It’s going to be different and I’m sure they won’t hold back, so just embrace it and try to have a good time…everyone’s under no illusions it’s going to come pretty hard.”

Furthermore, he is ready for England’s aggressive batting lineup to try to take advantage of his inexperience. Although they had lost four wickets due to stumpings against Lyon, they had managed to get four runs out of each over.

“Think they’ll probably come even harder at me,” Murphy said. “Obviously I haven’t played a hell of a lot of Test cricket, there’s a challenge that presents itself. They keep taking the game on and I think it’s about trying to navigate through that, come up with a few different ideas that can help and try to keep creating chances.

“Looking back on India, getting the opportunity to play Test cricket and being exposed to high-level contests only helps and I think I took a lot of confidence from that experience. Trusting that if I do get the opportunity, believe in myself that I can be good enough at this level.”

The two have spoken about the difficulty ahead since it became evident that Lyon’s tour was coming to an end. Nathan Lyon praised Murphy’s qualifications after the fourth day of play at Lord’s, when he had staggered out to bat.

“I sat with Todd in the last session there and spoke about spin bowling as we do,”

Lyon said.

“I have a lot of confidence in Todd. He is a great kid. He is willing to learn along the way. His stock ball is good enough in international cricket. We have seen that in India.

“It will be a different challenge with the England batters. If they do come at him, it provides Todd with a decent challenge. I have told him my phone is always on, it doesn’t matter if I am sitting in the changeroom with him or I am sitting at home watching it in bed.”

This time, Murphy will be the lone frontline spinner, a position he has played twice in his first-class career, unlike in India where he operated alongside Lyon throughout and also had Matt Kuhnemann in the attack for the final three Tests. 

He has now focused on strengthening and conditioning after experiencing the effects of the increased effort, which is what caused him to withdraw from a county spell with Durham in the early part of the season.

“It’s going to be a different outlook for me,”

he said.

“I had a really good chat with Nath, I think it was day four or five of the last Test, and he just said trust what you’ve got, believe in it and don’t go away from it. Don’t expect yourself to do too much. My body’s feeling really good at the moment. I’m confident that the work I’ve put in post-India to get that right, hopefully can hold up.”

Murphy’s flight had to be canceled as he was waiting at the airport, preventing him from making the short trip to Paris and back that he had planned in order to get the required visa in case a chance to play for Durham presented itself.

Lyon’s injury has rendered that idea obsolete, so whether he joins Durham for a late-season spell will now likely depend on his workload over the upcoming month. There was some thought to him possibly having a game while the Test series was going on.