Johannesburg — Andrie Steyn is aware, that despite the good form she’s shown in the first two matches against Ireland, that she may not crack the Proteas starting side for a long time after Friday’s final match in the series, and she’s okay with that.
Steyn, 25, made her international debut eight years ago, but has only played 35 One-Day Internationals in that time. Her path to a permanent spot in the South African team has been blocked by the emergence of Laura Wolvaardt and the power hitting of Lizelle Lee. She’s had to sit and watch two 50 over World Cups; one from the couch, after getting injured ahead of the 2017 tournament, while earlier this year she was part of the Covid reserves in New Zealand.
Yet she’s a solid top order contributor and was, besides Wolvaardt, arguably the in-form batter ahead of this year’s World Cup, but wasn’t selected for the main squad. Against Ireland she has shown that her form from earlier this year has not deserted her, and albeit against a limited attack, she has scores of 21* and 84* which have helped South Africa to two nine wicket victories that have wrapped up the series ahead of the final match on Friday.
“Cricket is just something I enjoy, I don’t play to prove some kind of point to people. It’s more to keep putting myself in challenging situations and seeing whether I can figure out how to get out of it, it’s what I really enjoy, especially with batting, because you can never really master it,” Steyn said..
“One of my personal goals was to come to Ireland and England and get a really big score. A knock like (Tuesday’s) is part of the personal goals I’ve set up for myself and if that then leads to being selected for one of the bigger series’s, then that is great, but if not, it’s not the be all and end all because of the personal goals I’ve set for myself.”
Steyn’s innings on Tuesday was not without its tricky moments. While she admitted to being happy to play second fiddle to both Wolvaardt, who scored 27 off 29 balls and then Lara Goodall, who maintained her excellent form with a career best 93 not out, she did get frustrated when she struggled for a short period after reaching 40. “I struggled in the middle part, and it was nice to see in that sense that Lara helped me through that rough patch. You get to know the person batting with you, and she really helped when times were tough.”
“I’ve been to Ireland and England and not scored a big score here, so to push on and pass 50 was nice for me,” Steyn added.
Her form, along with that of Goodall and Nadine de Klerk, is also assisting the selectors in creating the kind of depth, that will allow for players to changed in case of loss of form or injuries. “A team aiming to be the best in the world, needs to have people who can come in if something happens to those top players,” said Steyn. “So getting to play a whole series is awesome and to test yourself as a player, so if called upon in a high pressure situation you know you are capable of doing it, because you’ve done it before.”
She explained that part of the debrief following the World Cup earlier this year, one goal that had been set, was for the top order to take on more responsibility in terms of scoring the bulk of the team’s runs. The Proteas did struggle in that regard in New Zealand, with Wolvaardt’s outstanding form in that tournament, masking the problems the team had with the bat, which put the middle order under unnecessary pressure. “Us as the top 3, taking the initiative with these chases, and to win with eight wickets or by nine wickets is a goal we made for ourselves after the World Cup.”