An Exclusive Interview With Dale Steyn
Fast bowlers like Dale Steyn come once in a generation. Not many bowlers in the history of the game can rival his intensity, raw pace and immense passion for the game. After watching him bowl, you would not be mistaken for thinking that Steyn is an aggressive character. However, that is far from the case. Dale Steyn is friendly and relaxed off the pitch, happy to be interacting with journalists and his fans.
As I stood talking to Dale Steyn by the pitch at Lord’s, a steward came up to us and thanked Dale for signing his copy of Wisden’s this morning. That is the sort of player Dale Steyn is. While he may be fearsome and threatening on the pitch, he is the opposite away from the game.
The reason why I was at Lord’s today was to attend James Vince’s and Sam Billings’ press conferences ahead of the Royal London One-Day Cup final tomorrow. Even for a player of Steyn’s stature and experience, playing at Lord’s is always a special event. Steyn remarked that he was “very excited” and “a Lord’s final, what more can you ask for?”.
Steyn has only been with Hampshire for a month but seems to have settled down fast into life with his county. He has noticed some differences between the first-class circuits in South Africa and England.
“I’ve been here for a month now, the guys have looked very happy. There has been some nice rotation, the guys play a lot of cricket. I come form a side in South Africa where we don’t have such a large group of players, so it is a talking point when someone is left out. But in the county circuit we can rotate players all the time and players do not mind that much. That means there has been a happy changing room and I’ve been lucky to walk into such a happy changing room.”
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Having a happy changing room certainly depends on having a good leadership system and a friendly captain. Dale Steyn believes that James Vince has been an excellent captain.
“He does very well, leads the side, not just from a leadership point of view, but with the bat as well, he’s knocked up three of four hundreds in the three weeks I’ve been here – you don’t see that everyday. He’s leading from the front with the bat. He’s been spectacular.”
A major talking point recently was James Vince’s omission from the England Test side, at the expense of Jos Buttler. Joe Root was promoted up the order to bat at three, while Jos Buttler slotted into the middle order. What did the South African legend think about his omission?
“Its tough to tell, I don’t keep my eye too much on the England set up so I can’t comment too much on it. I wouldn’t say he’s wasted here in Hampshire, because Hampshire really appreciate that they have a fantastic player playing for them”
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Interestingly, Steyn drew parallels here with his own career, looking at his time with the Titans. While Steyn was playing with the Titans apparently he was often told that he was wasting his time, since he was not playing at the highest level.
“I remember when I was 22 and playing for the Titans someone told me you are wasting your time playing for the Titans you should be playing at the highest level and when you are playing for the Titans there is something wrong. So, for him you should be playing at the highest level but how you can get in there is a whole other question.”
Over the years of his long career, Steyn has been hampered injuries. That is certainly common for fast bowlers, but Steyn is feeling in great shape ahead of the final tomorrow.
“Hundred percent everything is fine. It’s been quite nice after the last two and half years that I’m able to play cricket again and not have pain anywhere. Most fast bowlers are operating on 80% and have a niggle somewhere: a tight hamstring, a shore shoulder or a toe injury. It is quite nice to run onto the field and not have to worry about any of that stuff.”
This is good news for cricket fans all over the world, for regardless of who you support, watching Dale Steyn bowl is delightful. With his return to full fitness, does Steyn have any goals for the next few years? The South African recently celebrated his 35th birthday, but he still has a lot of cricket left to play.
“The key thing is… I just want to play cricket as often as I can. I do not think its a time of my life where I can sit back and watch games go by. I am 35 and I want to play for South Africa as often as I can. If I’m carrying drinks as a twelfth man I’ll play my cricket elsewhere.”
I would like to thank Dale Steyn for the time he took away from training to speak to me today. It will be a pleasure watching him bowl tomorrow.
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