Steyn removal hinders Proteas

2014-03-01 22:58

Cape Town – They call him the Steyn Remover ... but for just how long will bowling trump-card Dale Steyn be “removed” from the South African attack in the remainder of the decisive third Test against Australia at Newlands here?

The pedigreed fast bowler broke down with a right hamstring strain after the first ball of just his 11th over as the Proteas were made to toil rather grimly on Saturday, experiencing the rare, flimsy return for them of one wicket per session on a belter of a track for stroke-players.

They were under pressure from the moment Michael Clarke won an inviting toss and took the logical decision under sunny skies of batting first, and with the controversial, outspoken David Warner very much to the fore – a handy little psychological result for the Aussies, wasn’t it? – have worked themselves into a position where a score in excess of the 450-mark is invitingly on, and perhaps then some.

That is often considered the “security” total in the first innings of a Test, where the team posting it have the luxury of knowing they should at least not lose the encounter from that position in eight or nine instances out of 10.

Frankly, with visiting skipper Michael Clarke unbeaten and having amassed major Test runs (92 of them) for the first time in many weeks, the eventual tally of Australian runs may well end up looking greatly more gruesome than 450.

So unless there are major strikes by the Proteas’ hitherto hard-pressed bowlers pretty soon after the resumption of hostilities on Sunday, Graeme Smith’s charges will be playing a fair amount of catch-up cricket just to make sure they do not lose the game and thus the series as well.

As things stand, the goal of becoming the first SA team since Ali Bacher’s legends of 1969/70 to win a home series against the Baggy Greens already begins to look ominously elusive.

But that said, when a swashbuckling customer like Warner (135 at a strike rate of 88) has put such an imperious stamp on a day’s play, you are guaranteed that the match is moving fast, which does allow for twists and turns as it progresses – and the often remarkable bounce-back qualities of the world’s current No 1-ranked side can never be discounted.

If the Proteas are to hit back with some venom, Steyn’s state of readiness – or otherwise – to do his bit for the cause on the second day and beyond could be a vital factor.

One of the reasons, after all, that South Africa are happy to pursue a policy of fielding seven batsmen and four pacemen at present (with two part-timers making up their spin component) is that the quickies are intended to rotate often and offer up short but incisive spells.

The absence of just one – and particularly if it is the indisputably blue-chip Steyn – plays havoc with that dynamic, and it certainly showed for much of the second half of day one as the attack lost much of its sting and was walloped about with particular Aussie glee in the lengthening shadows.

It has to be admitted, too, that even when Steyn was still part of Saturday’s arsenal – the fact that his complaint has been described by management as a “strain” is mildly comforting news -- the South Africans were taking a rather unpalatable bruising from Warner and company.

There were occasional barrages of quite spiteful payback from Morne Morkel, who targeted Clarke for bodily assault and battery, but the very fact that he weathered the storms will only have inspired the previously out-of-touch right-hander to convert this into a truly epic innings.

Keep in mind that Clarke had also prospered brilliantly in the first innings of the last Newlands Test between these countries in 2011/12, making 151 out of a total of 284.

It was the game where Australia capitulated to a horrendous 47 all out in their second dig, and there were some delighted reminders from one or two visiting scribes in the media centre on Saturday when the first innings on this occasion reached 47 without sacrifice in the wickets column as ludicrously early as the first ball of the eighth over!

That rather summed up the Proteas’ wastefulness and relative lethargy with the first new ball, plus just how collectively determined the tourists were to make hay consistently in the favourable conditions.

Of course two can tango quite elegantly, and the Proteas with their own array of aggressive batsmen are yet to have a crack at the crease themselves.

But it will not have escaped their attention, as they overnighted on Saturday, that forecasts still indicated a chance of gloomier skies and some rain for the second day, which could impede their own quest for smooth flying in the runs column if Mitchell Johnson and company suddenly come into their own in livelier conditions.

First though, there’s much more grafting to do just to set up SA’s own visit to the crease ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Baainaar Hofman - 2014-03-01 23:22

    Wat se die abbot fans en die bias Rob houwing nou?Last time Rory took crucial wickets against the aussies but ja u people have short memories so i want u to remember that Morne and Abbot are really bowling crap keep it up

      Henning Pantke - 2014-03-02 07:20

      Abbott took 12 wickets last weekend, and is the leading wicket taker this season...cant blame selectors for selecting him. The batting yesterday was more because of the pitch than anything else. What is worrying, as Warne stated it, is that with the sun and the wind the pitch will deteriorate quickly, so SA might be facing totally different circumstances when they walk in to bat.

      WILDSBOK - 2014-03-02 07:56


  • Baainaar Hofman - 2014-03-01 23:24

    As Robbie da was so da 5paaltjies plat gewees het ek hoop nou quota elgar score minder as 30

      Tian Nel - 2014-03-02 05:11

      peterson cant even spin a door knob.just shows how little you know about cricket

  • OzzyInSA - 2014-03-01 23:38

    You could tell from Graeme Smith's body language that the Proteas had already given up on this test when they lost the toss. Thanks to Warner, Clarke, and S. Smith the Aussies are in a position where they will not lose this test. With the retirement of Kallis SA is is on trhe (papid) decline. The SA team has been over-rated for too long. Getting beaten/dominated at home is a strange issue for them. I am pretty sure the groundsmen are going to get the blame for this series loss. How about blaming Cricket SA for not scheuling the Newlands test against Australia at a time that will suit SA (Phillander). Great to see the SA bowlers for what they are. Weak on a track (at home, no less) that should suit them. Laughing all the way back home. :-) :-) :-)

      Ken Alles - 2014-03-02 00:34

      Calm down buddy, we can only judge when both teams has batted... Now Skippy go get the Baas a Beer...

      Malcolm Kuhn - 2014-03-02 02:45

      Is it true that SA has not beaten Aussies in a test series since 1969/70? Well it looks like it's not going to happen here in 2014 either! See you guys next time in Oz where the pitches are the fastest in world and Mojo & Pattinson will be bowling 150km+. Ps, great range of safety gear avail in Oz.

      Jon Low - 2014-03-02 05:25

      SA won two series: 2008/9 and 2012/13. On Australian soil.

      Henning Pantke - 2014-03-02 07:22

      And the DOF award goes to Malcolm

      Malcolm Kuhn - 2014-03-02 07:49

      @ Henning Panties... I was only asking a question dickhead. I'm not sure what DOF means but I'm guessing it is Afrikaan for something non complimentary. Anyway sit back now & watch the Aussies give the world chumps a lesson in cricket when it is an even playing field and the pitches are not suddenly doctored or the ball tampered with.

      Liam Terblanche - 2014-03-02 08:59

      Sorry buddy, but the number 1 team in the world never, But never gives up!!!!!!!

      Pam Stevens - 2014-03-02 10:33

      Correct, the problem with South African cricket lies with the people running the sport, from the top to the captain. With the poor level of test cricket nations, and the huge talent we have, we should be unreachable at the top of world cricket. Instead we flounder inconsistently from test series to test series through lack of professionalism and commitment. How many of the rest of the squad besides Steyn took time off after the last test? No doubt all the "senior" players. Congratulations to Ray Jennings and his under 19 team on winning the WORLD CUP, something the senior team fails to do. Here is a man who can ensure that South African cricket reaches its full potential.

  • Gary Wynnè Vickers - 2014-03-02 01:37

    Overated,my opinion don't care what you say

  • Dhirshan Gobind - 2014-03-02 02:04

    Aslam 'Quota' says we can still win. What terrible luck with the toss and Steyn!

      Pam Stevens - 2014-03-02 10:35

      How fit was Stein after taking time off since the last test?

  • Malcolm Kuhn - 2014-03-02 02:55

    Is it true that SA has not beaten Oz in a test series since 1969/70? My internet doesn't go back that far!

      Jon Low - 2014-03-02 05:23

      They beat them twice in a series since re-admission (2008-9 and 2012-13), but both these series wins were on Australian soil. The 4-0 drubbing Australia suffered at the hands of Ali Bacher's 1969-70 team was the last time SA beat the Aussies in SA.

  • Wayne Hambides - 2014-03-02 03:14

    Let the excuses begin

  • Ayanda Shaka Sokhela - 2014-03-02 04:13

    Never write the PROTEAS off. Those guys are hurting after a disappointing first day. Expecting another typical Protea fight back today. These guys have shown that they are fighters. Aussies on top after day one but watchout!!! Here come the Proteas!!!

  • Jacob Maermerrie - 2014-03-02 07:43

    Steyn is really becoming something of a childish brat___every time things do NOT go his way, there is something wrong with him___first test against India he bowled unbelievable rubbish; he had a niggle but a couple of days later under conditions conducive to swing bowling he was 100%, he bowls junk at Centurian but 5 days later in PE he is 100%___he gets taken apart by Mr Warner ,,,,,,he develops a hamstring strain! Could just be that under closer scrutiny ( after Mr Warner's allegations ) the performance-enhancing substance using prima-donna will not be able to repeat his heroics of PE? Or will he miraculously recover from his " hamstring strain " in 48 hours___a condition which normally can take weeks to heal,,?

      Jon Low - 2014-03-02 08:23

      Steyn is a Hollywood bowler.

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-02 10:09

      It might just be precautionary and sometimes it is not in his hands to bowl again. If you guys really think he does it on purpose, you are as thick as bricks.

  • John Vermaak - 2014-03-02 07:58

    Get rid of Steyn for good man! And fire Smith into retirement. They are both useless and totally unrealiable. So was Kallis too.

  • Louise Stemmett - 2014-03-02 08:59

    Forget about Steyn. His time is coming to an end. Our under 19 boys are doing a better job. Biff is the Albatross around the Protea's neck. But then so was Hudson in his days. Birds of a feather ----------

  • Herman Schroder - 2014-03-02 09:15

    I still believe SA are not preparing properly for a test series. Stone cold when they lost the first test, Improved in second test due to some game time. Third test still up for grabs but will need a stunning collapse by Aus. We play too little test cricket. Steyn took a whole 4 days off despite only bowling a minimum amount of overs in PE. Bowlers need to bowl to strengthen themselves, just look at the previously 'softie' Johnson, after the ashes he was battle ready when he arrived in SA. This 'cotton wool' approach is costing us.

      Pam Stevens - 2014-03-02 10:43

      Fully agree, Ray Jennings and Alive Rice would sort that out and get rid of the players who are not intelligent100% committed professionals

  • Randall Justin Coetzee - 2014-03-02 11:03

    Nobody is saying this... But Australia is batting really good. I'm a south african supporter "tot laat" but I just have to state that

  • Cecil James Elsom - 2014-03-02 11:37

    Very few logical comments coming through here.Why not wait until the Proteas have batted out their first innings.Our under 19`s would have scored between 4-500 runs on this stone dead wicket.This game is destined to be a draw.

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