IPL 2019: Dale Steyn speaks about IPL return, Virat Kohli, Kagiso Rabada, World Cup challenge
It has been a dream start for Dale Steyn on his return to IPL and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Arriving mid-season as injury replacement for Aussie Nathan Coulter-Nile, the seasoned South Africa speedster has shown a Midas touch, helping his struggling team win two games in a row. Steyn, 35, who took two wickets each in the powerplay overs of both matches, spoke a day before his side face Kings XI Punjab at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
How does it feel coming back to IPL and RCB?
I haven’t been in IPL for a couple of years now … Got one or two serious injuries during the IPL period so I missed it. But it’s great to be back. The two games I’ve played so far have been exhilarating. Watching Andre Russell hit the ball out of the ground, and the other night with (MS) Dhoni almost pulling a rabbit out of the hat and yet we won by a run with a run out, it’s amazing. It feels like the whole course has changed for my entire year of cricket already.
You couldn’t have asked for a better start …
Yes, (but) I don’t really mind how things go, but I try and make a difference on and off the field. Cricket is such a strange game; you can do extremely well with the ball and not get the rewards; and you can bowl bad balls and still pick wickets.
How difficult is it to recover from injuries at your age?
I’ve been pretty fortunate that for the better part of 10 years I never had any injuries. I was a pretty fit cricketer all my life and knew I would always come back. After a broken shoulder that took nearly a year to recover, I had rotten luck to come back and land on a foot hole, which was my bowling foot, and that required about three months. There’s a big World Cup coming up and I’ve been pretty fit and firing for the last one-and-a-half-years now.
How does the quality of bowlers in IPL compare with other leagues?
It’s tough because the conditions here are almost batter-friendly. There’s not a lot of seam movement or pace, and there could sometimes be a bit of spin as the tournament goes on and the pitches become more worn. In general, if you can account for these factors, you can be a superb player.
How about Kagiso Rabada?
Kagiso has been phenomenal. Having not toured India a lot in his young career, he seems to be a level ahead of where some other bowlers are right now. And that’s including some of the great Indian players like your Bumrahs and everyone who are superb bowlers; but just looks like KG has gotten on to something that everybody else hasn’t right now. I’m a big fan of fast bowlers, love watching someone like Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and others bowl from across the world.
RCB’s bowlers seem transformed since you joined. You spoke to them?
Not really. I’ve watched them at the nets and they have had questions on how to swing the ball, what the mindset is. But I just think they needed somebody of senior stature to help them, to look up to. In batting, you have two of the greatest batsmen the game has seen in ABD and Virat Kohli. There are great bowlers, but in terms of IPL you are always looking for someone who has done phenomenally well; maybe to not just lead the attack but in terms of thinking, planning and everything like that. It’s nice to come in and it just feels like there’s almost a father-figure around… There are a lot of young fast bowlers who have immense talent but don’t know how to use it. In the last two games the guys have really come out of their shell and bowled phenomenally well. It feels like there’s almost a relief… they don’t have to take any blame.
Do you approach T20 bowling differently?
For the first six overs it doesn’t matter whether you are playing T20 or ODI. You’re only allowed six players outside the ring. So, you have to be quite aggressive in mindset. As an opening bowler you might go for some runs with the field in, but if you can be smart and use unorthodox fields, you can get away with certain things; maybe even buy a wicket here and there. The approach is pretty much the same for the first six overs. You want to bring in three dismissals — caught behind, lbw, bowled — and try and restrict the runs. And then your approach can be different according to what the captain wants.
How important is it for you to carry good IPL form into the World Cup?
There aren’t a lot of games. There are around 4-5 games and I might only play two or three. But it doesn’t really matter. For me, it’s nice to be playing. I just need to be fit. Going to a World Cup, playing for South Africa, we have got some tremendous players already in the team, and they will bring the best out of you anyway.