DURBAN - Nathan Lyon knows his designated jobs in the Australian Test side very well. As the slow option behind a hostile and skilful pace attack, he provides the stability, the stamina and also the irritation factor.
He gets under the opposition skin, and they often look to take him on to release some of the pressure exerted by the likes of Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. That suits him right down to the ground, too, as evidenced against England recently.
The off-spinner explained that he backed himself to find something on whatever surface and, when asked his thoughts on South Africa’s recent executive decision-making on the preparation of pitches, Lyon was as unerring as his arm-ball.
“I know for a fact that we don’t do that, and I know that if we tried to tell curators back home to take a bit of grass off to make it spin, they would tell us where to get off,” he swiped.
After some especially fiery surfaces in the Indian series, South Africa have taken a sensible step sideways and quietly decided to let curators do what they're paid to do.
Kingsmead does not have the pace of old, but that shouldn’t stop two fine attacks getting the ball to hurry on when they are fired up.
“These are the two best attacks, in my eyes, going head to head. I think it is going to be crackerjack series,” Lyon said.
“I went out and had a bowl with our guys, and Mitch looked like he was bowling quick. Josh was doing what he always does, and Patty was also looking fast. There is a lot of confidence in our bowling unit after the summer we had,” Lyon warned.
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Lyon is already bracing himself, as night-watchman, to cop his fair share of blows from the Proteas’ pace pack.
“I will be the punching bag again. It is a challenging job going up against some of the best bowlers in the world, but I have always wanted to challenge myself against the best.”
On that same note, Lyon said that needle between the two sides would be part of the game, though they give South Africa a lot of respect.
The Aussies want to avenge the 2-1 defeat on home soil in 2016, which hit them hard.
“What happens on the field, stays on the field. We're all grown men and we're competitive. If there is something to be said, I know it will be said on both sides,” he said.