Watson’s injury puts spotlight back on Lyon for Gabba Test

Sydney: A meeting between Australian coach Mickey Arthur and the Gabba groundsman has given hope to spinner Nathan Lyon to play against South Africa in the first Test, starting Friday.

Shane Watson’s calf injury has increased the chances for the Australians to play four fast bowlers in an effort to compensate for Watson.

But Lyon remains the favourite to play against the South Africans from Friday, with a spin-friendly pitch tipping the balance in his favour.

Arthur, Cricket Australia performance manager Pat Howard and captain Michael Clarke met with curator Kevin Mitchell junior on Monday morning and were left with the distinct impression that a slow bowler would be an invaluable asset in the latter part of the Test.

“We’re pretty confident we’re going to get a very, very good Gabba wicket, which increases the likelihood of us playing a spinner,” Arthur said.

He gave Lyon the most emphatic backing possible, but was careful not to open all his cards, The Sydney Morning herald reports.

“It’s all up for grabs. We might change. The weather might play a role. Things could change and we go with an all-pace attack,” he said.

“As it stands, we’d like to play a spinner. There’s four quicks probably going for three positions. We’ve got a lot of depth in that area and we feel we’ve got the seam bowling covered.”

Lyon took seven wickets in Brisbane against New Zealand last summer and has a tidy record of 42 wickets at 27.83 in his 13 Test matches.