He first looked for control and direction. But once Dale Steyn found his rhythm, he produced some serious pace and vicious swing in his first spell back from injury at the Vineyard Oval on Saturday.
Steyn, making his first appearance in for Western Province Cricket Club since recovering from a shoulder injury, took three wickets in five overs to rattle the cages of St Augustine in a WP Cricket Association Premier League clash in Claremont.
The Proteas speedster got his first wicket with the second ball of his second over, a rather dubious lbw decision against Saints opener Ishmael Evans. The away-swing delivery appeared to strike Evans outside off-stump, and the umpire took his time before eventually raising his finger in what was an unconvincing appeal from Steyn.
But after bowling within himself in the first two overs, the 32-year-old started ramping up the pace in his third, regularly beating the batsmen as he darted the ball back and away at will.
He induced an edge from the bat of the other Saints opener, Keenan Bowers, with Ryan van Niekerk claiming the catch at third slip.
Then Steyn turned up the heat in his fourth over, forcing his way through the defence of John Bowers to trap him lbw for another duck, and he ended with the figures of three wickets for two runs in five overs, with three maidens.
Steyn wasn’t required again as St Augustine collapsed in disastrous fashion to be bowled out for 42 in reply to WPCC’s hefty 326/8 declared in 60 overs, with opener Derek Mitchell top-scoring with 110 off 138 balls (13x4, 3x6).
SA Under-19 all-rounder Dayyaan Galiem also impressed with the bat, reaching 68 off just 40 deliveries (7x4, 3x6).
The luckless St Augustine line-up were asked to follow-on, and things didn’t go much better in the second dig as they ended the day on 48/6.
Steyn came back to for another five overs and claimed 2/11, with both of his victims bowled.
“I will be fine to play against Australia. All the talk about the injury can take a sideline – I’ve been fine for the last three weeks, and that’s why I’m playing today. If I was injured, I wouldn’t be playing today. So, ready to take on the Aussies and everything should be fine,” he told Independent Media before play started on Saturday.
And if there were any lingering doubts, he shattered those in fine style, bowling 10 overs and taking 5/13.
Yes, the opposition was not of a great standard, but the day was all about Steyn testing out his shoulder, and he looked in fine fettle.
So, those Aussies better watch out at Kingsmead in Durban on Friday for the first of a three-match T20 series. Dale Steyn is back!