DURBAN – Dale Steyn walked off the gleaming Perth Stadium with a smile to match the architecture. He had just bowled a spell of quality, setting the tone for South Africa to ultimately spank Australia by six wickets.
Steyn smiled at a job well done and, perhaps, at the pleasant change of walking off a field in Perth without the need for medical intervention. Sunday was a good day for the Proteas, one where they showed why they will be regarded as something more sincere than outsiders come the 2019 World Cup.
Their victory over the world champions could have been more emphatic, but the message was loud and clear enough for the Australians and the rest. The SA team may be slowly changing its face, but there are still some old truths that hold firm.
One of those is an attack that continues to produce the goods, around the world. Steyn arrived to one fast bowling dynasty, and then grew into one himself. Now, in the autumn of his career, Steyn is thrilled to be sharing the stage with the heirs to his throne.
“We’ve been bowling really well of late. One of our strengths has been our bowling for a while now,” Steyn pointed out.
He paid tribute to all those around him and, team man that he is, he also had a word to say about the man on the sidelines in Perth, Chris Morris. Steyn noted that the lanky Morris would have thrived on the surface, and compared him to another SA beanpole, Morne Morkel.
That has always been one of the enduring Steyn traits throughout his career; he appears genuinely thrilled for those he is in cahoots with.
There is no sense of trepidation or threat, as Steyn encourages and genuinely delights in the success of the rest of the pack.
His international journey will soon reach a natural conclusion but, before then, he is going to have plenty of fun with the next generation of SA superstars.
“There are some guys that are just on it. Lungi (Ngidi) has been going hot since the IPL. KG (Kagiso Rabada) has just been a fantastic competitor for the last few years now, and I am just so excited to be playing again that I’m just happy to be on the field again,” Steyn enthused.
“Imran Tahir is probably the best spinner in the world - or arguably the best white-ball bowler in the world,” he added, reminding that the SA attack was far from one-dimensional.
Steyn did a lot more than just “be on the field”, of course. He bowled with that classic, in and out shape of his, that boomerang arc that has caused untold havoc upon batting line-ups the world over. He bowled at good pace, and employed the fuller length that gets batsmen answering awkward questions.
The attack as a whole worked, with Andile Phehlukwayo also continuing his happy knack of taking wickets. They were backed up by some excellent fielding, sound catching and the kind of bustle that they will need to take to the UK next year.
The World Cup will be played early in the summer, with an Ashes series still to follow in the height of the good weather. That early start will mean teams with good bowling line-ups, which SA have, will be in business.