Town - Dale Steyn press
conferences are almost always good for a few laughs.
The 35-year-old, now the leading
wicket-taker in South African Test cricket history, has seen enough to know not
to take himself too seriously.
He doesn't mind poking fun at
journalists and hitting back with a few sarcastic chirps that form part of what
is clearly a dry sense of humour.
Steyn was in fine form in front
of the press following day one of the second Test against Pakistan at Newlands on
Thursday, but there was one particular answer that left a room full of cricket
scribes momentarily uncertain as to whether he was joking or not.
Steyn was asked what his response
would have been if he was told, in what was a week of tough selection
decisions, that he was being rested for the Test.
"If I didn't play?" he asked.
"I'd probably retire."
Steyn would go on to say that he
was "only joking", but there was a seriousness to his tone that made
you believe he was telling the truth.
He has, after all, only recently
returned to full fitness following two straight years of battling injuries that
threatened to bring his career to an end.
Now that he is back to full tilt,
it would take a brave man to take the ball out Steyn's hands right now and instruct
him to put his feet up.
Late on day three, when Pakistan
were on the ropes, Steyn was absolutely firing and in that evening session he
began to resemble the man who was once the most feared fast bowler in the
What is undeniable, though, is
that Steyn is playing a different role these days.
With Duanne Olivier quick and
aggressive and with Kagiso Rabada the No 1 ranked bowler in the world, Steyn is
no longer considered the 'go-to' guy when the Proteas need a
It is a sign of the strength and
depth that this Proteas seam attack currently boasts, but to consider that
Steyn might not be South Africa's most dangerous weapon anymore is unfamiliar
Make no mistake, he is still
bowling more than well enough to command a place in the Test side as well as form
part of the plans for the World Cup this year, but what does his role in the
side look like moving forward?
"It's so difficult when it
comes to Dale to make any predictions, because he has proven us all
wrong," skipper Faf du Plessis said after the second Test at Newlands,
which the Proteas won by 9 wickets.
"When he had those injuries
not too long ago, in the back of mind I was thinking: 'Is Dale Steyn going to
come back and be the Dale Steyn that we had not too long ago?'
"I think it’s so difficult
to judge him on his age. He's a freak and a super athlete.
"His body is so fit and he
was our quickest bowler on a slow pitch here (Newlands).
"Dale is a smart cricketer
now. He knows what to do and when to turn it on and off. I think as long as he
wants to play, he can still play Test cricket."
Du Plessis has not spoken to
Steyn about his future beyond the World Cup, but it is understood that he would
retire from ODI cricket in the hope of prolonging his Test career for as long
For coach Ottis Gibson, Steyn has
earned the right to leave the international stage on his own terms.
"He is 35 and steaming in
with a smile on his face and the Dale Steyn angry eyes are back again,"
the coach said.
"I like players to almost
design their own exit in a way. Sit and think to yourself how you want to leave
the game and then communicate that to me or CSA so that we can manage it
"The one thing you don't
want is for a player of his quality to go on too long or feel like he's left
the game too early. You don't want to drop a player of that calibre.
"If he feels that he's got
two more years in him and he looks after himself very well, then so be it.
"When he broke the record, I
told him that his next 100 wickets would come a lot quicker than the last 100,
as you can see from how he is performing on the field."
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