A revitalized Dale Steyn is enjoying the challenge of fighting to return to the fight for a spot in South Africa's traveling party for the Copa del World next year. First, however, he will have to mark his place in his 11th incumbent in an ODI summer against Zimbabwe, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
"I feel really good," Steyn said three days before the start of South Africa's international summer. "Having played my last game just two weeks ago in Hampshire, I feel like I'm going, I'm flying.
"But the cue ball is a completely new challenge, I've played the red ball in the UK, so the cue ball will be a different challenge, all the skills, the hitters that come to you, the Powerplay all That kind of And I have not played international white-ball cricket for quite some time. "
His trainer Ottis Gibson argues that Steyn is still "one of the best two bowlers in the country", but 35 is a majestic age for a fast fast, especially one without much white bowling on his legs in the recent past . The new ball will be difficult to win with the hands of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, "and that's good," acknowledges Steyn.
"It's good to have challenges, I think Lungi and KG will also appreciate the fact that I'll come back because they would also know that their positions are under threat, we all are, you can only take one. World Cup and we are all fighting for a place. "
The galvanizing pressure and the excitement of the opportunity to go to England next year will add a bit of vim to the efforts of the South Africans in the coming months, and Steyn is as motivated as any of them. In fact, he sees that it is his job to get the best out of his teammates, even when competing in a joust for positions.
"Everyone wants to go to the World Cup and I would love to go to the World Cup, but individually I would like nothing more than to see the Proteas win a World Cup," said Steyn. "And if that means I'm not going, then so be it, I did my job coming here, pushing the guys to the maximum, pushing KG, pushing Lungi, pushing Andile, all these guys. be here, playing cricket and challenging them. "
"It's good to have challenges, I think Lungi and KG will also appreciate the fact that I'll come back because they would also know that their positions are under threat, we're all in. You can only take one. World Cup and we are all fighting for a place. "
In the absence of Steyn, Rabada has become one of the best fast bowlers in the world. He was ranked eighth in the ODI bowling classification of the ICC and second in Tests (meanwhile, Steyn has fallen to 22nd place in Tests and does not appear at all in the Top 100 of ODI, since he did not play for so long ). So fast has Rabada been established, so full is his mantle with the prizes already, that it is easy to forget that he is still only 23 years old and is a relative newcomer. Ngidi is younger and even greener, and Steyn urged temperance in the expectations of fans and the media.
"KG is phenomenal," he said. "In recent years, he has won prizes that he did not even know existed, he's brilliant, Lungi is feeding on that, and he's also great, he's special, he's really young, and all I can ask is that the media and the The people of the country simply understand that these are two very young men, and they are doing everything possible to win games for South Africa and they are extremely talented, but they also only have a handful of cricket games between the two of them. Too much at this time, let's give them freedom to play and time to grow because they are special talents. "
Steyn would know a thing or two about the damage that excessive pressure can cause on the shoulders of a young cricketer, having had enough of his own at the beginning of his career. That is surely one of the many truths he must have learned in his last 14 years as an international cricketer, and although Steyn jokingly accepted the role of mentor that Ottis Gibson had foreseen for him, he is the loquacious guy and talks to his teammates. of equipment. from the middle, at the top of his career, or in the networks is something that comes very easily.
"If I'm going to be a mentor, they should pay me more!" said Steyn, with a smile. "But I've always been someone who's at the top of my mark when I'm playing bowling and I talk to the other bowlers, and Morne [Morkel] was also very good at that, Jacques Kalllis, these guys. The best players in the world It would be a sin not to pass on that knowledge I learned from guys like Boucher, even though he was not a fast bowler, you know, we play ball, my guardian, if there is someone who knows my action even better of what I know myself, it would be Mark Boucher, and the conversations I had with him are the same conversations that I hope to share with all these young players. "
Steyn has not thrown a white ball in an international since taking 0 for 56 from 9.2 against Australia in Newlands almost two years ago. If you have a bad memory of that night, when you also dropped Aaron Finch in the third man, or that series (and you could not have had too much fun, averaging 50+ and reaching almost seven in the ODI), it's been a while since I forget. What he does remember is that South Africa won 5-0. "It's so bloody a long time ago that I can not even remember it," he said. "What I do remember is that we won five-zero, and it's a team game, and that's all that matters."
Something fresher in memory, and legs, will be Steyn's time with Hampshire in the last two months. He insisted that he enjoyed his taste for the county treadmill, taking 18 fields in two formats and managing to stay free of injuries. Almost.
"It was good to go play there, to be in the park constantly, when you play cricket for four days you play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you have Friday, Saturday and then you start another one on Sunday, with a bit of travel in the middle, so you're constantly playing, non-stop, which is great, because a lot of us play and when you get the right rhythm, you do not want to wait a week, or five days, before the next, you just want to continue. that it was nice enough to play constantly.
"And I was quite satisfied with myself for having managed to overcome all this without really having any problems, I had a little problem in the groin, which broke out in a lot of news sites, the only problem was that 7 or 8 days for one of those little tickles in the groin heal, and because of the quick response in terms of games, I had to lose a game, but I followed it again with no problems after that. "
Steyn also played four T20s in England, so his mix of limited deliveries should be in good working order and there should not be too much rust to fly. Anyway, he will spend the next few days honing his skills and, most importantly, putting his head in the right space.
"In the networks I'm going to work on a couple of skills: yorker, a couple of slower balls and all the skills a fast bowler has in his arsenal, but that's just a way of thinking. there is a possibility that you can go to eight or more, even 10. A lot of us run and we think four and a half more is perfect, those days are gone, and he's already 3 out of 40. Bowling in Powerplays is really difficult.
"ODI skittles are really a way of thinking right now, and if you can get into the right mindset and be happy with the fact that one day you can go for 100 and the next day you will be the hero, then I'll be fine, it's just a way of thinking when it comes to a day of cricket. "
That's the kind of advice he'll also share on the networks.
Liam Brickhill is an independent journalist based in Cape Town
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.