Australia spin bowler Nathan Lyon says he is expecting a fierce battle against the Proteas in the opening Test in Durban.
The Proteas’ home record against Australia is a major contrast to their form Down Under. Australia have never lost in South Africa post-isolation and will aim to keep their unbeaten record of five series wins and two draws intact.
The Proteas, however, hold the advantage based on recent form. They continued their streak Down Under by beating the Aussies 2-1 in 2016, which extended their winning streak in Australia to three series (2008, 2013 and 2016).
Lyon, however, hopes that his side can draw inspiration from their record in South Africa but refrained from underestimating the hosts.
‘The whole side is in a better place. There’s been a big change since the last time South Africa were in Australia,’ he said on Tuesday. ‘You have to give them credit, they totally outplayed us in our own conditions. That didn’t go down well with myself or the whole side.
‘We’ve spoken about coming over here and have really enjoyed coming over here in the last couple of series. We are not going to take that for granted. We are not coming here thinking that we are going to get an automatic success.
‘We trained really well. We had an unbelievable training session, the boys are firing and there’s a lot of confidence in the changing room.
‘But, as I said before, we pay the South Africans a lot of respect as they have some class players. We have to see how we go, but we need to make sure that we are competing and challenging the South Africans.’
One of the players who Lyon labelled as ‘world class’ was AB de Villiers.
De Villiers did not play in the Proteas’ last series against Australia Down Under, but he will be back to face a side against which he has scored the second most centuries (five) and most half-centuries (nine) in his career.
‘AB is a world-class player,’ said Lyon. ‘He has been for a long time and it showed by his consistency. He’s scored runs all around the world and probably brings calmness to their middle order. It will be a massive challenge for me, especially if he’s batting for long periods of time.
‘We will sit down and work out plans to interrupt his series. I always want to challenge myself against the best batsmen in the world and AB de Villiers is one of the best of the world. It’s going to be a hell of a series and exciting.’
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