Old guard Steyn eyes new role in young SA side

Updated February 12, 2020

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EAST LONDON: Experienced South African Dale Steyn has his eye on the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Australia this year as he takes on added responsibility as mentor to his team’s young fast bowlers.

Steyn is regarded as one of the greatest quick bowlers to play the game, but has been laid low by injury for long periods in the last three years.

The 36-year-old is set to play his first Twenty20 International since March 2019 when South Africa host England in the first match of a three-game series at Buffalo Park on Wednesday.

Steyn, who ended his Test career in August having taken 439 wickets in 93 matches, says his only goal for now is to play in the T20 World Cup in October.

“With Test cricket, the workload was too much as I want to extend my career for as long as I can,” Steyn told reporters on Tuesday. “In Test cricket you can bowl 20 overs in a day, that is five T20s, so it was a smart decision.

“I love playing cricket, right now I wake up every morning and I can’t see myself doing anything else.

“As long as the desire is still there to play at the highest level, to get batters out and out-smart them once I have decided I don’t want that I will walk away.”

Steyn admits he has had to adapt his game after chronic shoulder problems reduced his once blistering pace, but has enjoyed challenging himself to find new ways to get batsmen out.

“I want to keep experimenting and trying to change my game,” he said. “If I’m only going to play one more match I want to take a wicket with every ball, not try and defend a boundary.”

Steyn spent most of his career in the same team as current South Africa coach Mark Boucher and director of cricket Graeme Smith, and now that he is one of the few senior statesmen left in a young squad, has added responsibility on the pitch.

“This is a young group of players and my role is to orchestrate the bowling attack a little bit,” Steyn said. “I want to stand at mid-off and say to the bowler, what are you thinking? and hopefully they can learn and get better.

“You want to win every game, obviously, but right now it is more about learning. If we win the World Cup, nobody is going to care if we lost to England in February.”

Steyn said that he planned to play in T20 leagues in Pakistan and India in the coming months. “After that it will be the Proteas and I will give it everything I’ve got until the World Cup.”

He said that in Test cricket he had prided himself on being able to bowl at high pace throughout a long day. “The requirements for T20 cricket were different but guys need to know that it’s still there and that you can bowl a 90 miles an hour bouncer or yorker.”

England stars Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Mark Wood return for the three-match T20 series after being rested during the One-day Internationals.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2020