Dale Steyn is back in Perth, and he is as fit as a fiddle. For any cricket lover, that is terrific news, because to catch a glimpse of Steyn in full flight remains one of the most beautiful sights in the history of the game.
“It is weird to be back here,” Steyn told journalists in Perth, where he broke down in late 2016.
That shoulder injury would lead to the most frustrating of periods for one of the great fast bowlers the game has seen. For a time, as he kept on going back to the treatment table, there were fears international cricket had seen the last of his sensational light.
“The last time I walked off here, I didn’t realise how bad my shoulder was. When I went in to see the doctor for the MRI, he asked if I fell off a ladder or motorbike. I didn’t realise it was actually that bad,” he reflected.
It took months of physiotherapy, and even more patience for a character who is seldom still. When he did finally make it back for an extended period, Steyn has shown that the magic has not left the shoulder just yet.
And neither has the menace in him.
“We played against Zimbabwe recently, and I bowled in the high 140’s (km/* ) and hit 150km, which I was quite pleased about,” he beamed.
“If any bowler hits 150, he is going to tell you about it. I got through those games and four months of county cricket with limited issues,” he pointed out.
An injury-free Steyn adds considerable sheen to a pace pack which already has black diamonds in the red-hot Lungi Ngidi and the ice-cool Kagiso Rabada. They all bring different skills and attitudes to the table, and may well thrive in the conditions that an early UK summer brings in 2019.
But, before that, there is still the small matter of a massive summer of preparation - and this short visit to Australia, which the tourists are giving their full attention to.
Neither did the veteran speedster pay too much mind to the surprising loss to the Prime Minister’s XI, in the Proteas’ only warm-up fixture.
“It’s unfortunate that we lost, but I think everyone got something out of it bar the top three batsmen who got ducks and didn’t make much. The bowlers had a good run, there was some good fielding and a few batsmen made runs. The bowlers also got to bat a bit as well,” said a man who has been relishing his role lower down the order.
Minor series or not, South Africa against Australia always chucks up plenty of intrigue. It is an historic rivalry, and the likes of Steyn thrive on the competition.
“We didn’t come here to lose. Any time South Africa plays against Australia, it is always a good spectacle. Both teams are highly competitive and do everything that they can to win. I don’t think that will change come Sunday.”@whamzam17
Independent On Saturday