Lyon, O’Keefe set to reunite with NSW

It’s been over 10 years since two frontline spinners let the red ball rip in tandem for NSW at the Gabba.


But Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe are expected to be unleashed at the pacemen’s paradise on Sunday when they reunite in the Sheffield Shield.

Lyon and O’Keefe were part of Australia’s ineffectual attack in the opening clash of the recent Test series against Pakistan, with the latter dropped for the second game.

Left-arm finger spinner O’Keefe bounced back in the best possible way after his Test debut, snaring 5-24 from 25 overs in the second innings at Adelaide Oval as NSW defeated South Australia.

Lyon, who watched the birth of his second daughter from the UAE via Skype, enjoyed some family time during that game but is ready to return in the upcoming four-day clash with Queensland.

Coach Trevor Bayliss noted NSW’s XI had yet to be finalised, but added he had no concerns about the prospect of picking twin tweakers for Brisbane.

“They’re both good bowlers and spinners have actually done a bit better there than what everyone thinks,” Bayliss told AAP.

“There’s no reason why they can’t bowl well together there.

“Even if it happens to be a green top – if three pacemen can’t do it then four won’t either.”

NSW used two spinners in the opening two rounds of the Shield season, but pace-laden attacks are the norm at the Gabba due to its lively bounce.

Not since Jason Krejza made his first-class debut in October, 2004 have NSW deployed two spinners in Brisbane.

National selector Merv Hughes floated the prospect of Stuart MacGill partnering Shane Warne in the opening Test of the 2006-07 Ashes, but that’s the closest Australia have come to it in recent years.

That stance won’t change when a four-Test series against India starts at the venue on December 4.

Lyon struggled in the UAE, capturing three wickets at an average of 140, but is unlikely to be dropped.

The 26-year-old recently noted he loved playing at the Gabba, with the upcoming Shield clash an ideal tune-up for next month’s Test against the masters of spin.

“Obviously the UAE wickets nullified that bounce he can generate,” Bayliss said.

“The bounce (at the Gabba) will help him. A little bit of extra pace in the wicket. A little bit of quicker turn.

“He’ll be looking forward to it.”


*15 wickets at 21.86 from three Tests

*Claimed match figures of 7-88 against New Zealand in 2011, his best Test figures on Australian soil

*Dismissed England captain Alastair Cook and South Africa legend Jacques Kallis at the venue

LYON ON O’KEEFE: “It was fantastic to see SOK come back from the Test tour over there and win a game for NSW … SOK is a great bowler”

O’KEEFE ON LYON: “Nathan Lyon is the best spinner in the country. He is learning and getting better and better”.