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Nathan Lyon on India’s 100th Test shirt gesture: ‘I don’t see it as a champing at all’

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Nine months after India wrapped up a 2-1 Test series win in Australia, the debate surrounding a seemingly generous gesture is still far from settled, with Nathan Lyon, the recipient of the contentious 100th Test shirt, having now given his take on the matter.

Moments after India retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy with another series win in Australia, the team won large swathes of the internet over with a gift given to Lyon, to mark the Australia off-spinner’s 100th Test match.

In the post-match presentation ceremony, Ajinkya Rahane, the stand-in skipper, presented Lyon with a signed shirt. “From the Indian team, we’d like to give Nathan Lyon a signed jersey for playing 100 Tests,” Rahane announced at the ceremony, calling for Lyon to come and collect the memento.

While the gesture earned appreciation in the main, plenty began to wonder whether the move might have had an ulterior motive, intended to assert India’s dominance over Australia, when Lyon, who underperformed in the series, would presumably have rather been anywhere else other than accepting an offering in front of all in attendance.

The 100th Test shirt truther movement grew with India playing games against two more players in milestone matches, but failing to repeat the gesture after falling to defeat on both occasions. Ross Taylor admitted to feeling “jealous” of Lyon after playing his 100th Test against India in early 2020 but leaving empty-handed, while Joe Root celebrated his 100th Test with a match-winning double century in the first Test against India in India earlier this year, weeks on from the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, but was similarly shirtless at the end.

Lyon himself, speaking to The Grade Cricketer Podcast, said he had noted with interest the lack of shirts for Taylor and Root, but put he move down to the presence of Rahane, leading India in Virat Kohli’s absence.

“I put it down as a classy touch to be honest,” he said. “I think it’s all off the back of Ajinkya Rahane, to be honest with you. I know Ross Taylor played his 100th Test against India and he didn’t get a shirt, and I don’t think Joe Root did about two months later as well, which is a little bit interesting. But I don’t see it as a champing at all, it’s a very nice gesture. It took me by surprise, as you can probably see in the footage.”

Asked if he felt the gesture would not have happened had Kohli been captain for the game, Lyon played it straight. “You’re going to have to ask Virat when he’s on here next week!” he joked.

He then went on to explain that Kohli had also proven generous in the commemorative stakes.

“I’ve actually got one of Virat’s shirts down here as well, he was very kind to give me one of his. A couple of decent bits of memorabilia there.”

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