Cape Town – Be wary of booking for day five.
That is the advice of long-serving Proteas pace spearhead Dale Steyn for the country’s maiden experience of a floodlit, pink-ball Test against Australia at Adelaide Oval in November.
The final encounter of a three-Test series that sees earlier fixtures at Perth and Hobart, the “Steyn Remover” says the Adelaide match “will produce a result … without a doubt”.
In an interview with Sport24 at Kyalami in Johannesburg at the weekend, where he and SA pace colleague Kagiso Rabada were serving as Nissan Ambassadors at the SA Festival of Motoring, he said the match “might well go four days max”.
“The wicket will be a little greener because if it’s on the drier side, you will struggle to see the ball. So it has to be a bit greener, and will do a bit more.”
His forecast that the contest won’t go the full distance seems well-founded: when the Aussies hosted New Zealand in the inaugural day-night Test at the same venue in November last year, it only lasted three days as the hosts prevailed by three wickets.
The highest total by either side was the 224 posted by the Baggy Greens in their first knock, after they had shot out the Black Caps for 202 in only 65 overs (NZ had opted to take to the crease first).
Nevertheless, the ever-optimistic, bullish Steyn isn’t complaining about the novel challenge for the Proteas.
“I haven’t bowled with a pink ball yet, but we have some two-day warm-up games with it.
“Look, it doesn’t matter to me what you place in my hand … put a tennis ball there at garden cricket and I will still be looking to beat the guy at the other end! Pink, red, white … whatever, let’s just get on with it.
“It’s quite nice to know that this will be a tour where I will only have to pack my Test boots … line and length, patience.
“If you go there for a longer tour, you’ve still got in the back of your mind ‘aargh, white-ball cricket yet to come; I’ve got to change things then, up my skills set’.
“But this is just about being patient and mentally strong for long periods of time. It’s great not to have to worry about the other formats.”
Steyn conceded that it was difficult to judge the Aussies’ current strength, given that they had a relatively short-lived stint back as the No 1-ranked Test side, but were then clean-swept 3-0 in Sri Lanka recently.
“I reckon they’ll be wondering a bit about us, too. I mean, over the course of two lost series (India away, England at home) we slid all the way from one to seven in the rankings. I can guarantee you we won’t play (in Australia) like a seventh-ranked team.
“Likewise, whether Oz are No 1 or No 10, they’re also not going to play like they’re No 10 when we come to town … they will play that hard brand of home cricket we know so well. The rankings have nothing to do with things.
“We all know the Aussies are a bloody confident lot, regardless of whether they may have lost even their last five series! It’s always tough in Australia, dealing with their crowds … a ruthless place to play, any time.
“The cool thing is we’ve won the last two times there … we know how to get the job done in Australia.”
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing