Tim Paine has taken some of the blame for the summer that was meant to celebrate Nathan Lyon turning into the Australian spinner’s most frustrating home series.
Lyon was stranded on 399 Test wickets after 100 Tests on Tuesday, the tweaker not only unable to bowl Australia to victory against India at the Gabba but watching on as the hosts suffered their first loss at the venue since 1988.
A late wicket saw him finish with 2-85 as India managed a ground-record 7-329, behind cavalier Rishabh Pant’s unbeaten 89.
Pant in particular proved a thorn in Lyon’s side, carving him to all parts of the SCG and the Gabba in successive Tests as India first saved the series in Sydney before winning it on the final day in Brisbane.
The off-spinner ended the series with nine wickets at an average of 55.11 and strike rate of 124.6 – the worst rate for any home series in his career.
Shane Warne led the criticism of Lyon’s “negative” field settings on Tuesday, disappointed the 33-year-old hadn’t employed a short mid-off or tempted the batsmen to be more attacking when the run chase appeared forlorn.
But it’s a method that’s proved the test of time and Paine acknowledged Lyon’s tough luck – he had five catches dropped and a stumping missed across the series – when delivering his assessment.
“They (India) grow up playing spin don’t they; that’s what Indian teams are famous for … (but he) created plenty of chances, a close lbw shout early (on Tuesday) that goes his way and could’ve got on a roll,” captain Paine said.
“He bowled his heart out and at times we let him down in the field and at times balls didn’t quite go to hand.
“He’s been an absolute champ of Australian cricket, bowling well, creating chances and and he’s someone who will bounce back well in (the next Test series in) South Africa.”
Australia are due to leave for a three-Test series in South Africa next month, but Paine admitted they were yet to land on a departure date as COVID-19 continues to cloud the 2021 calendar.