Dale Steyn is angry. Not just because injuries have ruled him out of any meaningful participation in the test series against India and England, but because he is being repeatedly written off as either “past it” or on the verge of retirement.
“It’s absolute rubbish,” Steyn said in Cape Town. “I played 48 tests in a row, didn’t miss a single one, and now suddenly I’m an injury liability at the age of 32? It’s ridiculous. Injuries can happen to anybody but I’m still one of the fittest players in the squad and I have many, many overs left in me.”
Talk of retirement may have started with the speculation that AB de Villiers was considering his future and looking for ways to “manage his workload” but it has baffled the great fast bowler.
“The test team is going through some huge changes and I want to help lead the way as one of the senior players. This is no time to turn your back and walk away, that’s the last thing on my mind. I have many ambitions left in the game and I’m as excited about playing international cricket now as I was when I started over a decade ago.
“I would love to play 100 tests, hopefully more, and take many more wickets. But mostly I want to start winning test matches with the Proteas once again and get back to where we were for so long,” Steyn said.
And it is not just the test arena in which Steyn wishes to remain: “I would like to play all three formats. I’d love to be involved in the ODI series against England but I’m not going to rush back from injury, like I did in India, and make it worse. I’m desperately keen to be fit and play in the T20 World Cup in India in March. It might be my last World Cup so I’d like to help win the bloody thing!”
Ironically, Steyn believes that the groin and shoulder injuries which have ruined his season were caused by not playing enough cricket rather than too much. “Managing my workload doesn’t always mean resting,” he said ruefully. “I need to make sure I have enough overs in my legs and body before I start a test match at 100 miles an hour.”
Match-fixing, a series loss and a spectacular crash down the world rankings. These are tough times for SA cricket. Thankfully, Steyn is the perfect antidote to all the bad news.