"He is the best all-rounder in the world," says Lion, hopeful to see Stokes in the Ashes
As it stands, Ben Stokes will not be with England's touring party in Australia but Nathan Lyon hopes to face his foe in the Ashes.
Australia spinner Nathan Lyon is expecting Ben Stokes to earn a late Ashes call-up and says he is eager to come up against England's star all-rounder.
Stokes absent due to an unrecovered injury
Stokes missed England's home contests against India earlier in 2021 after announcing in July he was taking time off for his mental wellbeing and to allow a broken index finger to recover.
A second operation on that injury earlier this month preceded Stokes being left out of an initial 17-man squad for the five-Test Ashes series, which begins on December 8 in Brisbane, though he has since posted footage of his batting and bowling
While a continued omission for Stokes, who is also not with England for the T20 World Cup, would obviously be a boost for Australia, Lyon remains hopeful he will go head-to-head with one of the best in the game.
Lyon's words of praise towards Stokes
"I'm expecting him to come. I'm expecting Stokes to be out here and, to be honest, I hope he is," Lyon told reporters at the Hurtsville Oval in Sydney, where the NSW Blues were playing an intra-squad practice match.
"You want to play against the best players in the world and Stokes is the best all-rounder in the world.
"He's an X-factor and he's a game-changer, and you want to play against these players, so I'm expecting Stokes to be here."
Stokes has 4631 runs in 71 Tests and a batting average of 37.04. With the ball, he has 163 wickets at an average of 31.38.
His absence would be a blow to an England batting line-up many feels is lacking in quality depth.
Lyon aiming to surprise the English team
That is not an opinion shared by Lyon, though, who says he has a few surprises up his sleeves for Australia's greatest cricketing enemy.
"I've always got a couple of mystery balls," he said. "That's been the beauty about this pre-season, it's been my first ever proper pre-season.
"I've been able to do a lot of fitness work and a lot of skills work. I've already started looking at a couple of England's batters, so that's exciting.
"They've got some very talented batters early in their Test careers. Look at Ollie Pope's last red-ball game. He got a pretty big double-hundred.
"It's going to be a different challenge for these guys, coming out to Australia and we want that."