Dale Steyn is eager to get back on the park after a long injury layoff forced him out of the bulk of the Proteas’ Test season last summer.
The paceman, who last played in the Boxing Day Test against England in Durban, is fit and fired up to make a contribution in a busy Test season ahead.
‘It’s been very frustrating,’ Steyn said of his injuries in Durban on Tuesday. ‘I never really struggled with injuries, then bang I got a groin injury then as I recovered I broke my shoulder as I got through that. To have the extended break wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. A lot of people have pointed that I am on the wrong side of 30 but I feel that is wrong.
‘Look at Misbah, he is playing at 42,’ he said in comparison. ‘It has nothing to do with that, I was unlucky that as I recovered I got another injury, and that was probably because I was going from 0 to 100 way too quickly. If you look at your fast cars, they tell you to drive them to 1 000 km before you hit 200-plus km and I obviously didn’t put in 1 000 km, I tried to hit that 200 and I bust the shoulder. I’m looking to get back out there in the form that I love the most.’
Steyn, who has been playing T20 cricket with Glamorgan and the Gujarat Lions, says it won’t be difficult to make the change in formats and will be transferring the same set of skills to the red ball which only requires a change in mindset.
‘I base my white-ball cricket around Tests,’ he explained. ‘I always try to bowl good lines and lengths with the white ball, make the new ball talk and with change-ups with slower balls and bouncers. In this format I like the idea that I can bowl long periods and attack for a lot longer by bowling consistent, hard lengths with the odd bouncer. In one-day cricket you bowl two hard length deliveries then you start to think that this guy might come at you so you change up with a slower ball or something. Now you can put pressure on batters and hit the hard length all day until they make a mistake, that’s what I love, I love testing guys’ patience.’
The Proteas boast an impressive pace attack, with Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott providing valuable strike options. Steyn says it will be important to manage the sudden change of workloads during the match, but is preparing to pepper up the opposition with the pace and aggression that has been his trademark throughout his 12-year career.
‘If I must be realistic about it, running in and bowling 145 km/h all day when you haven’t done it for a long time is going to be tough,’ he admitted. ‘Objective number one is to get through 18 overs a day as a bowler without dropping in pace but being as effective as possible. I think 140 km/h is good enough, there will be times in the day where I can rev it up to 145 even 150, and we have someone like KG (Rabada) who can do that now, we have to maintain that.
‘If we are looking at going with three seamers along with a spinner, that is a big workload for the seamers who haven’t played a lot of cricket where we have bowled a lot of overs,’ he added. ‘It’s feeling good, the ball is coming out nicely in the nets and I’m bowling quickly, it’s about maintaining that over the course of the day. If you have the heart then you can do that.’
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