Dale Steyn, the South African mainstay, continued to impress on his comeback trail, as he bowled at high pace and picked up four wickets over a long spell on Day 2 of the first Test of the two-match series versus Sri Lanka in Durban.
The veteran fast bowler bowled at speeds over 140kph in an unbroken 10-over spell. Steyn, who also surpassed Kapil Dev’s tally of 434 Test wickets, has been laid low by injuries. He sustained a career-threatening injury of the coracoid process in the WACA Test in 2016 and subsequently, suffered a heel injury during the Cape Town Test in 2018.
The pacer noted that he was feeling good about his bowling and hoped he could contribute to team’s cause for a longer period of time. “After not playing for two years, I feel like it’s a blessing to just be playing again. I’ve almost had to start over. I’m not on 430-odd wickets, I’m on 20 since breaking Shaun Pollock’s record. It’s nice to finish a three-Test series against Pakistan and not have someone write: ‘He’s an injury away from retiring.’ It’s nice to contribute again. Hopefully I can continue this for longer.
“When I’m bowling 10-over spells, it shows I’m enjoying what I do. I could take the easy option, take 4 for 30 and go and stand at fine leg and tell someone else to do it. But it’s fun. It’s fun taking wickets. It’s fun hitting guys on the head. As long as nothing serious happens.”
Steyn also observed that pace was the key weapon in his armour. “The moment I can’t bowl 140-145 kph, and on a good day touch 150 kph like in fast Australian wickets, then you’ve got to ask yourself the question: How good am I? I’ve got to be honest – I don’t have all the skill in the world. I’ve got to bowl at a high pace consistently, over a long period of time.
“With a little bit of skill – I can shape it away, and I can bring it back in. You’ve got to be smart about when to bowl a bouncer, when to bowl a yorker, and when to bowl a slower ball, and that’s what experience is. After 15 years, I’ve got some of that.”
Steyn hasn’t picked up a five-for in Tests since August 2016. He could have ended the drought only for Dean Elgar to drop a sitter.
“Today was a day where I felt there was a wicket there all the time. I just felt like it was there for me, so I just kept going. When they were eight down, I didn’t want Vern [Philander] or Kesh [Maharaj] to come out and bowl a loosener and go for four or six. I thought: ‘I’m going to carry on bowling here until the captain says he’s had enough.’ He had had enough after I had my sixth [over], but I kept begging, and got what I wanted.”