Dale Steyn doesn’t enjoy admitting that he’s had a fairly ordinary tour of Australia to date, but he promises that he’s going to bust a gut to help South Africa win the series in the third Test starting tomorrow.
The 29-year-old from Phalaborwa has 292 Test wickets, just eight off becoming the fourth South African bowler after Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini to have taken 300 wickets for his country.
But it’s been slow going this tour, with Steyn conceding 129 runs in each of the first two Tests for the reward of just one wicket in Brisbane and four in Adelaide. “I’ve gone two games where I haven’t done too great, but hopefully I can have a fantastic game in this one,” he said.
Steyn suggested, however, that the South African pace bowlers were finally coming into their own.
“We had a crazy first day (when Australia scored 482/5) in Adelaide, but after that we got better throughout the game, whether the ball was swinging or not.
“That’s pretty much how I know this attack can bowl and, if we can string it together properly here in Perth, we can go home with a win.”
Asked if he found it frustrating as the world’s No 1 bowler to not be performing to the standard of which he is capable, Steyn smiled disarmingly.
“I don’t think I’m the best bowler in the world, I’m not the most skilful bowler in the world. I’m just fortunate enough that I play every game for South Africa and I’m able to take wickets when we need them. Hopefully I can take wickets in this game, that’s what I’m employed to do and that’s what I love doing.”
Steyn then echoed the mantra so beloved of coach Gary Kirsten and his management team: “Ultimately it’s going to be the team’s contribution in trying to win this series. It’s not going to be me taking seven wickets, it’s going to be a contribution from all our bowlers if we are to win the series, not just myself.”
He showed some frustration about his tour to date when answering a question about whether he would have liked to have made a bigger impact on the series so far.
“Yeah, absolutely. Who wouldn’t?” he said. “Why would I want to come to Australia to be below average or ordinary? When you’re a bowler, you want to take five-fors or hit hundreds and double-hundreds if you’re a batter.
“You want to do it under great pressure against one of the best teams, in one of the most difficult places to tour in the world.
“I remember the last time I came here I had a massive game in Melbourne, but I didn’t do too great in the other two Tests. But it was a fantastic tour for me. Now I haven’t gone too well in the first two games, but if I can have a great Test here I’ll be happy. Winning the series, that’s the main thing.”
Steyn said the Test would be an epic encounter that would “take everything out of everyone to win it”.
He described the mental changes he underwent when an important game such as this was on the line. “There’s just a bit more want, a bit more need. It all boils down to the last five days, that extra push.”
He admitted that the team had been below their best, but had still managed to keep their heads above water. “I think we’ve played probably below what we’re capable of, but we sit in a situation where’s it’s still 0-0.
“Australia’s thrown everything they can at us, and they still haven’t beaten us. If we play to our potential, I think we’re going to go home 1-0. And that would be fantastic.”