A Mitchell Johnson bouncer that struck India captain Virat Kohli on the helmet during the first test on Thursday might actually help players get past the shock of Phillip Hughes’ death, according to Australia spinner Nathan Lyon.
After taking the wicket of opener Murali Vijay before lunch on day three at Adelaide Oval, a fired-up Johnson banged in a short ball which struck Kohli flush on the badge of his helmet.
With all mindful of fallen batsman Hughes’, who died in hospital two days after being hit in the neck by a bouncer, the Australian fielders bolted to the middle out of concern for Kohli, who took his helmet off to inspect it.
Though fans at the ground had applauded the first short ball that India’s Varun Aaron sent down to opener David Warner on day one, the Kohli hit hushed the terraces and Australia captain Michael Clarke consoled Johnson as he walked back to his mark visibly distressed.
Kohli was unharmed and went on to score a rousing 115 before Johnson returned to dismiss him late in the day.
Asked whether the blow and Kohli’s response might assist players still struggling to cope with the loss of Hughes, Lyon said it might be beneficial.
“It probably has been a positive thing as well, as bad as that sounds,” said the offspinner, who took two wickets as Australia battled to hold India to 369-5 in response to their first innings declaration at 517-7.
“We know the helmets work, and … have that confidence for our quicks to have a bouncer again.”
Lyon said players had discussed the hit over lunch and Johnson had not been too affected by it.
“He’s feeling good and I can guarantee he’s going to come out and fire in the second innings and have that aggression that we all love him for,” he added.
Johnson was off his best and was punished by India’s batsmen, particularly by Kohli after the new ball was taken after tea.
But the seamer fired up again after having the captain caught out and subjecting India wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha to a stern examination of short-pitched bowling in the final overs.
Clarke showed great courage to score 128 on day two as he battled through the pain of a lower back injury. He was in the field for all but a few overs on Thursday, though restricted in his movement.
Lyon said he thought Clarke would “definitely” play out the rest of the test.