IPL 2019: For Dale Steyn, leading the line is business as usual
When things aren’t going swimmingly, dial Dale Steyn. That is what Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) coach Gary Kirsten did. So what if this season’s Indian Premier League (IPL) was in the background for Steyn who was spending free time with his grandparents when the call came last week.
Having found out that Steyn, 35, was readying to play some T20, Kirsten signed him as Nathan Coulter-Nile’s replacement. If South Africa’s most successful Test bowler with 439 wickets --- he also has 196 One-day International dismissals --- is expected more than fill in, it is something he is used to.
“Look, I’ve played for SA for almost 13 years (over 14 years; Test debut in December 2004) and I feel it has been the same. Of late, you have found the guys like KG (Kagiso Rabada) and others have done well but I’ve always felt that pressure. When I started playing even if Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini were there, I still took it upon my shoulders to try and lead the team,” said Steyn after his first IPL practice session at Eden on Wednesday.
To a team that has lost all but one game in IPL12, Steyn said he hoped to be able to inject some excitement. “Obviously, the season hasn’t gone all that well but that’s cricket. It is like fishing, you wouldn’t call it that if you caught all the time. If we win the next couple, if not win all of them, and something happens in our favour, who knows?”
What will Steyn do if he lines up against Andre Russell on Friday? “If you want to bowl a yorker, you have to land it; if you want to bowl a bouncer you have to be on the money. KG backed himself in that Super Over. The yorker may not be the approach but that is the kind of thinking that needs to go into bowling to him,” he said.
Last week, Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting said that Rabada is an exceptionally determined man who justifies the big investment on overseas players. Steyn took that forward.
“He has been doing that for the past two-three years. He is kind of a wonder kid. I watched in such excitement the way he bowled against Australia (in 2018) and he just kind of continued that. You often see players show signs of extreme excellence and then, kind of, fade away but with KG, I think we can get used to this kind of performance for the rest of his career,” he said.
When the conversation moved to the World Cup, Steyn batted for South Africa saying ODI rankings need to be thrown out of the window. “I don’t think we have lost an ODI series for two-and-half years but no one gives us a chance.
“We are led by Faf (du Plessis) who has been in fantastic form, KG is bowling exceptionally well, in the IPL Imran Tahir is right up there in terms of wickets (second-highest at 13 behind Rabada who had 17 wickets before Wednesday). We have got a list of players from Quinton de Kock to No. 11 who are matchwinners and there is not much more that you can ask for.”
Comparison with 1999, when England last hosted the World Cup and Steyn was in school, therefore is pointless. “We use two new balls now. Batsmen who are No. 3 will play the ramp from the first over. We were relying on guys like Lance (Klusener) to hit the ball out of the ground. Now every team has a 360 degree player,” he said.