Will Lyon survive Proteas punishment or end up as cool as Bryce?

Australia and South Africa. Two cricketing nations that thoroughly enjoy flattening each other whenever the opportunity arises.

Over the years, arranged beefs between the pair have resembled warring packs of hard-nosed mules in creams, mainly due to an identical stubborn approach to the game by both and a mild undercurrent of mutual hatred that naturally spawned with the early involvement of grating types like Shane Warne and Pat Symcox.

Separation of the teams is usually by a struck match at best, which has ensured there’s been plenty of collector’s items down memory lane for both sets of supporters over the years of skirmish.

Some cherished etchings that spring to mind are South Africa’s wonderful defence of 116 to win in Sydney in 1993/94, Australia’s wonderful defence in scoring 47 all out in Cape Town last year and Warne’s wonderful defence of reputation against allegations of misguided texting whilst on tour in the Republic.

Truly special cricket folklore.

The umpire calls for gloves as he decides he wants a crack at Bryce too.

One such chapter in this book of feuds remains rightly hidden amongst convenient amnesia here in Australia, and that is Bryce McGain’s test debut against the Proteas in 2009, again at Newlands in Cape Town.

McGain was bum rushed by the South African batsman as if a picture of his bespectacled face was on their hotel dartboard for days leading in to the match. The nerdy leg-spinner was shown nil decorum at every opportunity, and with no answer to the ambush, he was given a one-way ticket to international cricket oblivion and trivia stardom with the head-spinning figures of 0-149 from 18 overs.

It was the last time the poor bloke rolled the arm over on the international stage, making it a lowlight that should only be resurfaced provided there is Alka-Seltzer at hand. My deepest apologies to McGain and his fans, and most notably his proud family who did request a refund on flights and accommodation that day.

The reason I exhume such tragic nostalgia is because my waters feel the potential for something unfortunately similar playing out for Nathan Lyon in this match, and I place the blame squarely at the feet of the crocked and unavailable Shane Watson.

(Or the blame could be on the Sydney Sixers, Pat Howard, the stacked international calendar or just bad Dencorub, but that’s another story.)

Without the blonde balance-bestowing all-rounder in the team to provide valuable bowling cover thanks to a pesky calf complaint, immense pressure is on the four chosen specialists to not put a foot wrong in the absence of an insurance policy.

With the South African Massive sure to employ the shrewd tactic of trying to proactively bash the value out of this uninsured vessel in an attempt to stuff its rhythm and lower its horsepower, Lyon appears to be the loosely-fitted side mirror sitting at the perfect height for a swinging piece of thug timber.

Lyon: can the green offie have an impact?

With just six modest wickets in four shield games so far this summer, combined with the Proteas prejudice against lesser-known Aussie tweakers, it makes him the obvious basic kill.

A merciless Lyon-bashing could relegate him to specialist fieldsman status, meaning laborious overtime for the quicks. And with Ben Hilfenhaus coming off a strict diet of 24 balls a sitting and emasculating dancing classes (can anyone explain his drab attempt at acting on the Vodafone ads?), it’s extra workload that could snowball into fatigued fruit flinging, part-time pies and eventually big totals for Australia to chase.

In Lyon’s defence, he has shown that he can hold his own with world-class batting opposition in the past. However, with Graeme Smith’s top 7 boasting a combined total of 36043 test runs over 474 matches, this could be the ultimate test of his trick bag and his temperament.

Are we going to see our young spinner stand up to the stern examination of an attempted mugging, or could we be looking at another murder scene with McGain-like figures?

Be brave, young Lyon. Your country needs your best.

Or for the selectors to opt for four seamers instead.

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Dane Eldridge Tries Hard

Contemporary rugby league surrealism and hot takes on Shane Warne

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