Summer of cricket begins
Our cricket experts preview the first Test between Australia and South Africa at the Gabba.PT0M0S 620 349
NATHAN Lyon fully expects South Africa's cavalcade of top batsmen to attack him in Friday's first Test at the Gabba but says he will not be discouraged.
The Australian off-spinner earned international respect a year ago with a superb start to his Test career, with match figures of 7-88 against New Zealand at the Gabba, the finest performance by an exponent of finger spin at the ground in decades.
But after a sluggish start to the domestic season — and an uninspiring Australia A tour of England in the winter — there is a belief that the likes of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, A.B. de Villiers and Jacques Kallis fancy themselves against the 24-year-old.
Nathan Lyon gives it a tweak in the nets at the Gabba. Photo: Getty Images
Lyon, hoping to be named in Michael Clarke's final XI, anticipates nothing short of that. In the past four years the Test careers of two Australian spinners — Jason Krejza and Bryce McGain — have been bludgeoned to a halt by South Africa but Lyon enters the first Test not afraid of being thudded to the boundary on occasion.
"They're going to come hard at me, there is no doubt about that," he said. "But in saying that I'm pretty excited about that. That means I'm in the game as well. Hopefully I'll be able to create a few chances and contribute to a Test match victory for Australia.
"They're a classy batting line-up. They might come at me, seeing as we've got a great pace attack. I don't mind them if they come at me, it's all part of the game, all part of the fun."
Lyon's maiden international summer reaped 42 wickets in 13 Tests, at an admirable average of 27.83.
While there are queries about Lyon's form and output approaching the first Test — due to conditions he was able to bowl only four overs in his last Sheffield Shield outing in Hobart — South Africa's journeyman leg-spinner is not without questions about his game.
Legendary South African batsman Barry Richards told a Queensland Cricket luncheon on Wednesday that he had doubts whether Imran Tahir would hold up against Australia's leading batsmen, expecting him to get the task of cleaning up the tail.