Speedster fit and ‘ready for Black Caps’
Having missed out on South Africa’s three tests earlier this year, Proteas pace-man Dale Steyn says he is back, fit, thrilled and ready to front up against New Zealand.
The Proteas take on the Black Caps in the Sunfoil Series opening test at the Kingsmead cricket stadium in Durban on Friday (10am start).
The 33-year-old missed the three tests against England at the start of the year as well as the one-dayers in February.
He also did not play in the ODIs against West Indies and Australia in June.
Steyn, who has taken 406 wickets in 82 tests for South Africa, was last seen in a test when South Africa played the first against England in Durban in December last year.
“I am happy to be returning to test cricket,” he said.
“You can really put pressure on batters. You can just hit that hard length all day until they make a mistake and that is what I love,” he said.
“I love testing guys’ patience. It’s a waiting game. I am a fisherman. I will wait there all day and I will hopefully find the edge or knock his poles over.”
He said he was confident his side would put on a much better showing than in their 2-1 loss against England.
The last time they played New Zealand, in 2013, they won the series 2-0.
Steyn said he was aware the series would not be a walk in the park, but the players had been training hard.
If his team bowled well they should do well.
“Hopefully, the speed of the bowlers will increase. There will be mileage on the legs and the guys will be more consistent,” he said.
“The first test is going to be a tough one. There will be a lot of hard work, but the guys are putting in hard work.
“I am also doing the hard yards. We did a fitness test on Monday and everyone passed.”
The “Phalaborwa Express” said the team was in good shape.
“We are bowling a lot of overs in the nets and the skills are there.”
Fans will be hoping to see him break another cricket record, but Steyn said his focus would be on the team and not on personal achievements.
“When I went to Bangladesh some time back everyone was like ‘Ah . . . you are going to get to the 400-wickets mark’ and then the rain came and it was like a nightmare to get it.
“In India, people were like ‘Ah . . . well you can get Polly’s record’ – bang, I was injured – and then they said ‘Ah . . . if you do well with England you’ll get it – and bang I broke my shoulder.
“So, I am not interested in any records right now. It would be a record if I could get through a game without injury. That would be pretty cool,” he said with a smile.
South Africa have taken a dip in the world test cricket rankings and are now ranked sixth.
Steyn said the only way to get back among the top teams was by winning games and having good players.
He said it was unfortunate the team would be without captain AB de Villiers, but he was confident Faf du Plessis would do the business.
“People need to step up. We play this game hard and we play it well. I have been around for long enough in the last while to know what the ins and outs have been.
“So, I am back in the side and I am determined to get that team there. When I put my head down to something I generally mean it.”