• Last updated on Tue, 19 Jun, 2018, 03:21 PM
Dale Steyn has been out of international action since the Cape Town Test against India at the start of this year. © AFP
Dale Steyn, the South African spearhead, who has been playing for the English county, Hampshire, in the Royal London Cup, observed that his “rhythm seems to be coming back” ahead of the two-match Test series in Sri Lanka, starting next month.
The 34-year-old speedster, who has 419 Test wickets at an impressive average of 22.32, sustained a serious tissue damage to his left heel during the Cape Town Test versus India. He missed the rest of the three-match series against India and the subsequent four-match rubber against Australia. He had also suffered a fracture of the coracoid process of the right shoulder during the WACA Test against Australia in 2016.
Steyn began his county stint in a List A game versus Somerset but he struggled for consistency and went for 80 runs. He then played in a first class game versus Surrey, where he took a couple of wickets. He also took part in the Royal London semifinal encounter against Yorkshire, snaring the scalp of Cheteshwar Pujara.
“The body’s fine, body feels good,” Steyn told Sky Sports. “I’ve got no problems. I’ll have a look [at my bowling footage] in the computer when I get back up. One thing is I’ve got overs under my belt, the rhythm seems to be coming back. I’ve got a good follow through going on which means there’s good pace at the crease and I’m hitting the crease nice and hard. Yeah, everything seems to be ticking over nicely.
“I love playing cricket. I guess it’s my job as well but I also love playing it. I’ve been out for two years now. I broke my shoulder and then really bad luck, rotten luck really, I came back and my first game back, I landed in a foothole and tore a little muscle in my heel. I’ve never had a foot injury in my life. So just rotten luck.
“I’m just chomping at the bit to get out and play. I went for 80 the other day but I absolutely loved it. It was great to be back out and playing again and I felt this is where I needed to be rather than petting my dogs and driving and getting stuck in traffic and doing the rehab thing. I need to be on a cricket field so I’ll play for as long as this body can hold,” he noted.
The South African pacer, who has played 86 Tests so far for his country, also said that he would like to play 100 matches in the longest format of the game. “I’d love to play all formats. Like I said, I love playing cricket. I think Test cricket is the pinnacle. I’d love to try and play 100 Test matches, I don’t know whether I’ll get there. I’m at 86, so that’s about 14 more, but being a World Cup year, there’s a lot of white-ball emphasis right now. So I think we’ve only got five Tests until around this time next year.
“So if I’m going to look to play the 100 Test matches, I’m going to be around for the next three years. That’s 38. I think I can do it. The body seems fine. I’ve always been fit. It’s a mental thing. How long do you actually want to do it for. If you’ve got a family and if you’ve got kids – which I don’t but I do have a girlfriend and two dogs that miss me – and how much are you willing to give up. I think AB [de Villiers] hit the nail on the head. He’s got two young kids and he’s looking at life after cricket right now. He’s reached that point but I’m not there right now,” he said.
Steyn is also eager to play alongside an exciting bunch of fast bowlers coming through the ranks – Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. “[Kagiso] Rabada is so special. [Lungi] Ngidi’s coming through nicely. I just hope there’s a spot there for me when we get to Sri Lanka. In those conditions you’re always looking at playing possible two spinners. So good headache for the coach to have. When you get the opportunity to represent your country, you go and you make the most of it. I’m looking forward to going out there with some serious talent. The Proteas have someone to look forward to in Ngidi but Rabada’s been special for about two years now already. We all know that.”