CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Australia respect the decision to allow Kagiso Rabada to feature in the rest of the test series and the South African fast bowler’s participation is “exciting”, Australia spinner Nathan Lyon said on Tuesday.
Rabada successfully appealed against an International Cricket Council sanction for brushing the shoulder of Australia captain Steve Smith in the second test, getting his punishment reduced from three demerit points to one.
That means he remains under the threshold of eight in the last 24 months, freeing him to play in the remaining two matches of the acrimonious series which is poised at 1-1, starting in Cape Town on Thursday.
“It’s exciting, as Australian cricketers we always want to play against best and he is the number one bowler in the world, so it will be a challenge for all of us that have to bat,” Lyon told reporters.
“The ICC has made their decision and we respect it, that’s their job. It’s not for me to sit here and say whether it is right or wrong. We have two massive test matches to come and we will have to play at our best to beat South Africa.”
Lyon said the Australians were only at 40 percent in their six-wicket loss to South Africa in Port Elizabeth, which followed a comprehensive 118-run win for the touring side in Durban.
“We sat down and had a good debrief. If I am honest I thought we played at about 40 percent in PE. Another 100 runs and it would have been a helluva test match,” Lyon said.
“We will have a team meeting tonight to sit and discuss where we can better. The pitch is interesting, it looks a pretty good wicket. It’s a helluva series with two top teams going at it.”
Lyon had an excellent 2017 during which he took 63 wickets at an average of 23.55, but in this series each of his six dismissals have cost him close to 40 runs despite favourable conditions.
“I think I have played my role (in the series), but credit to South Africa, they have played me well on spinning wickets. I am just trying to hold up an end up and challenge these guys’ defences,” Lyon said.
All-rounder Mitchell Marsh (groin) and seamer Mitchell Starc (calf) came through training on Tuesday after overcoming niggles and are available for selection.
Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond