“I’m not in Lancashire to take Tom Hartley’s place,” insists Nathan Lyon | Nathan Lyons

Nathan Lyon has denied being in Lancashire to take Tom Hartley’s place in the team but admitted the chance to bowl alongside Ashes rival Jimmy Anderson was one of the reasons for his arrival in county cricket.

Lancashire pulled off a major coup by signing the record-breaking Australian outsider on an overseas contract. Although he only landed in the country on Tuesday, he is straight into the squad for Friday’s opening game against defending champions Surrey.

Lyon’s arrival at Old Trafford had its critics, with some fearing it could hamper the development of Hartley, who impressed for England in India. New Lancashire coach Dale Benkenstein sees things differently and is keen to throw both spinners together, a plan endorsed by Lyon themselves.

“I know what Baz (Brendon McCullum) has said in the media and that’s all well and good – but I’m not here to take Tom’s place,” he said. “I’m here to bowl with Tom. If Tom calls me every day, sits down with me for coffee every day and talks about spin bowling, I’m happy to do that.”

Lyon did his homework on Hartley, who had just 40 first-class wickets for Lancashire before being picked for England, and spent hours watching the Test series. “To see Tom go there, make his debut and play the five Test matches, I actually watched it quite closely. He’s a talent, he’s only 24 and let’s see what he does, what I think he can do better, he has a big future ahead of him. This is also exciting for England cricket and world cricket.”

There was another big draw and that was his lunch companion on Wednesday, Anderson, an old adversary from beyond the Ashes barricades. “If the opportunity arises to bowl with him and share a dressing room with him, it will be very special,” Lyon said, “so I’m looking forward to it.”

“He is one of the greatest, if not the best and fastest bowler to have played the game. I’ve had some incredible fights against him. I admire his ability, from my side there is nothing but respect for what he has done for English cricket but also for world cricket and inspired young boys and girls to play the game.”

Lyon was originally signed for the full season across all formats, but had to reduce his schedule to seven first-class matches after a decision by Cricket Australia over his workload management.

“It’s definitely not my decision, it’s the nature of the animal,” he said. “CA went overboard and said they wanted to manage me and hopefully extend my career. My hands are tired.”

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Meanwhile, Jack Leach is expected to be out of action until early May, giving his Somerset teammate Shoaib Bashir the chance to establish himself as England’s top spinner. The 32-year-old suffered a knee injury in England’s first Test win over India in February and was ruled out for the remainder of the series, in which Bashir made his debut.

Off-spinner Bashir played three of the last four Tests and excelled with 17 wickets at an average of 33.35, although all four games ended in defeat for England. The 20-year-old has been named in Somerset’s squad for their County Championship opener in Kent, while Leach is expected to be sidelined for a lengthy period.

“Somerset will likely be without Jack Leach until early May as he continues his rehabilitation and returns to full fitness,” the county said. England play their first Test of the summer against the West Indies at Lord’s on July 10.

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