Nathan Lyon has revealed umpires advised players when stump microphones were turned up during the home summer, adding he still harbours some concerns about the divisive devices that are set to become a major talking point at the World Cup.
The International Cricket Council (ICC), desperate to crackdown on poor behaviour last year, invited broadcasters to use stump-mic audio at any time in coverage.
New Australian broadcasters made the most of the change in policy, even silencing commentators for some overs so viewers were given unprecedented access to on-field chatter.
But, as is often the case with high-rating reality TV, the devil was in the detail of Australia’s recent series at home.
“I was actually getting notified from the umpires when they were listening … it wasn’t just me. The fast bowlers and everyone else, everyone was made aware they had the stump mics on,” Lyon said, having expressed concerns last year about players being caught out swearing at themselves during coverage.
“So that’s where a bit of common sense came about, I actually thought the umpires played an exceptional role in controlling the whole environment.
“It felt like they actually cared a little bit about the players.
“Not like anything was going over the top but I don’t think swearing is a really good look for young kids.”
Lyon joked it probably “saved a lot of us a lot of money”.
Steve Elworthy, this year’s World Cup tournament director, has made it clear he is in favour of the mics being turned up at all times so fans can “get closer to their heroes”.
The ICC is considering whether to reproduce the approach of Australian broadcasters.
“It’s here to stay. That just means I’m going to be talking about Nike a lot more,” Lyon quipped, referencing the tactic of plugging rival sponsors.
“It’s part of the game now isn’t it? My opinion isn’t going to change anything.
“The way Tim Paine went about it and the banter that we’ve been able to have on the field, it’s been good for the game, but I think there’s some stuff that should be left on the field.” Paine and Rishabh Pant’s running verbal battle was one of the major subplots of that Test series, while the Australian captain’s quip to Murali Vijay that he “couldn’t possibly like” Virat Kohli as a bloke was another memorable moment.
His quip that Pant should come and play in Hobart so the Indian star could babysit his kids, ended up being one of the stories of the entire summer of cricket.
Previous guidelines dictated that mics were turned down when the ball is dead, ensuring most of what was said on the field stayed there.
The ICC also rolled out new penalties for personal abuse and audible obscenities last year.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed (racial abuse) and West Indies paceman Shannon Gabriel (homophobic abuse) are two recent cases where players have been suspended.
Meanwhile, Lyon has shot down suggestions that Australia’s batsmen are chokers.
The tourists missed a golden chance to level their five-match series against India in Nagpur, where the hosts were bowled out for 250 on a dry deck that produced a low-scoring game.
Australia were well placed in their chase at 0-83 then again at 5-218 but collapses of 4-49 and 5-24 ruined their hopes of victory in the final-over thriller.
“We’re playing against one of the best sides in the world and choke is a pretty strong word,” Lyon said, when it was put to him that Australia choked under pressure.
“I don’t think choke is the right word.
“We’re competing against one of the best sides in the world.
“We’re a young side, we’re learning about the game, and having these experiences is going to be absolutely brilliant leading into a high-pressure environment like the World Cup.” Australia’s eight-run loss on Tuesday means India will win the series if they triumph in Friday’s clash, which starts at 7pm AEDT in Ranchi.
Lyon, whose 17-run stand with Marcus Stoinis was one of many twists in the dramatic second ODI, suggested exposure to such high-pressure situations will hold the team in good stead at the World Cup.
“It is amazing to have … that little taste of what might be around the corner,” he said.
“You want to come up against the best under immense pressure, that is where you see people really stand up. It’s an excellent opportunity for us.”