Dale Steyn needs to prove that he’s got the fitness to last long spells if he wants to continue playing Test cricket.
When CSA convener of selectors Linda Zondi said that Dale Steyn had been left out of the upcoming triangular series squad because he needs to rest, it didn’t make sense to me. ‘In the short term our immediate focus must be to get back among the top-ranked Test nations and for this reason we are resting Dale Steyn for this tour,’ said Zondi. Surely he needs some overs under his belt if he is to prove that he is fit enough to play in the Test series against New Zealand in August?
If his workload needs to be managed in the months ahead, then why is he playing for Glamorgan in the Natwest T20 Blast? If he is a capable of playing for them, then he should be capable of playing for the Proteas. But if they deemed him surplus to requirements, then it would have made more sense to get some four-day cricket under his belt in preparation for the Test series.
He only played one match for the Gujarat Lions in the IPL, so there’s no reason why he should need to be rested – he should be fresh. Questions might then be raised as to whether or not he is actually good enough. A couple of years ago, Dale Steyn playing one IPL match and sitting on the bench for the rest of the tournament was unheard of. He’s been injury-stricken for a while now, and I fear it is affecting the quality of his bowling and it’s perhaps putting club and country off selecting him.
He might yet still have an important role to play in Tests. He can still generate enough pace and movement, and he’s still regarded in the Proteas camp as the spearhead of their attack. I’m just not sure if there’s enough gas left in the tank, and although he seems determined to carry on playing Test cricket, he might just be eyeing Shaun Pollock’s record Test-wicket tally (he needs 16 more) before calling it a day.
In this day and age, I’m sure he’ll be tempted to call it quits after that and continue to play in the lucrative domestic T20 leagues. He will want to keep playing in the IPL, and now he’s going to enjoy a decent spell with Glamorgan while the Proteas are playing ODIs. The four-over spells will be less taxing on his body, and I think he’s at a stage where smaller spells are what he needs. If not, then he needs to prove he is fit enough to bowl the longer spells needed for Test cricket.