Cape Town - Dale
Steyn may have taken a pounding during South Africa’s one-day
international series sweep over Australia, but he remains key to his
country’s hopes when they take on their long-time rivals in a Test
series next month.
Just four days after completing an historic 5-0 victory in a one-day
series, South Africa’s cricketers will board a flight to Perth on Sunday
for an even bigger challenge - three Test matches in Australia.
What happened in South Africa may not have much bearing on the Test
series, with conditions and playing personnel being very different.
Only three of the Australian one-day squad - captain Steve Smith,
David Warner and Mitchell Marsh - are likely starters in the Test
series, which starts in Perth on November 3.
Nine of South Africa’s one-day winners are in the Test squad,
however, including Steyn, whose five one-day wickets came at a cost of
50.80 runs each, while he leaked runs at a shade under seven an over.
Fellow fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, also expected to play a key role in
the Tests, was marginally worse. He also took five wickets, but at an
average of 52.80 in conceding 7.33 runs an over.
South African captain Faf du Plessis said both fast bowlers were
aware they had performed below expectations but said he expected both to
step up in Australia, especially Steyn.
“Dale in Test cricket is a different breed,” he said.
cricket it’s about consistency and making sure you bowl in good areas
for a long period of time.
"When Dale gets that red ball in his hand he’s just a different
bowler. He is still our number one bowler in Test cricket and for us to
have a successful tour of Australia, Dale Steyn will be the guy to make
or break that for us. I’m confident he will have a good series.”
Du Plessis admitted, though, that Steyn’s fitness would be crucial.
Now 33, the long-time number one bowler in Test cricket suffered
groin and, more recently, shoulder injuries that severely restricted his
appearances last season.
“His shoulder looks okay,” said Du Plessis.
“That’s a challenge - to
make sure that he stays fit and that he can bowl for long periods of
time. Our bowling attack needs to be fit for us to win a series in
Australian vice-captain Warner was among those who benefitted from Steyn’s struggles in the one-day games.
Warner, the top scorer in the series with 386 runs at an average of
77.20, including a magnificent 173 in the final game, scored 94 of his
runs off 77 balls he received from Steyn, without being dismissed by the
But Warner said he was not underestimating Steyn ahead of a duel which is likely to be critical in the Tests.
“You’ve always got to respect Dale,” said Warner.
“He’s a world-class
bowler, a great athlete. He always charges in and you just never want
to upset him.
"That’s something I learned fast when I first made my international
debut. He’s a guy that can really get on top. He has this spark in him
and this spell in him and you’ve got to get through that.”