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Lyon should have bowled earlier: Warne

AAP logoAAP 5/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Nathan Lyon failed to live up to his moniker in the first Test but Shane Warne felt for the offspinner, suggesting "bad captaincy" from Steve Smith didn't help his cause.

Lyon logged figures of 0-146 from 34 overs during South Africa's mammoth second-innings total of 8(dec)-540.

They are arguably career-worst figures for Lyon, nicknamed GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) by teammates because no other Australian finger spinner has taken more Test wickets than his 211.

Lyon has conceded more runs on four occasions but snared at least one wicket during those innings.

Warne opined on Sunday that the 28-year-old suffered from the fact he didn't have a bowl on day three until after lunch.

Smith noted on Saturday he overlooked Lyon because the ball was reverse-swinging but Warne didn't buy that explanation.

"It wasn't like the ball was hooping around corners yesterday, they couldn't take a wicket," Warne said on the Nine Network.

"That was a bit weird Nathan Lyon didn't bowl one over (before lunch). He bowled 12 overs on a 37C day and the quicks bowled their hearts out.

"Australia got it wrong ... it's bad captaincy because you're trying to get the best out of players."

Michael Clarke also questioned on Nine why Lyon, who was hammered for four sixes in the space of two overs after lunch on day four, didn't have a bowl earlier on Saturday.

Coach Darren Lehmann conceded Lyon "probably could have bowled a few more overs" on day three.

"The ball was going reverse and that's the way he (Smith) felt like he could get the wickets," Lehmann said on ABC Radio.

The skipper acknowledged it was a tough call.

"The ball was reversing ... very uncharacteristic of the WACA, I think it's the first time I've ever seen the ball reverse at the WACA," Smith said.

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