Australia A v South Africans, Sydney, 3rd day

Steyn fires up for Australia batsmen

When Steyn decides he is in the mood, it's time to be afraid. Very afraid. He was in the mood on the final afternoon against Australia A

Firdose Moonda at the SCG

November 4, 2012

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Dale Steyn runs in to bowl, Australia A v South Africans, Sydney, 3rd day, November 4, 2012
Dale Steyn bowled a fiery spell late in the day © AFP

The only thing remotely wicked about Dale Steyn is his sense of humour. Unaffected by the accolades heaped on him, the world's best bowler has also been known to be one of the nicest and one of the cheekiest.

Whether it's admitting to having a midnight McFlurry in London the night before the final day of the Lord's Test in August or confessing with a straight face to quite enjoying the opportunity to "basically kill someone with two bouncers an over, or try, legally," Steyn is the kind of player journalists like because he does not hold back. For that reason, he is also the kind of bowler batsmen dread.

When Steyn decides he is in the mood, it's time to be afraid. Very afraid. He does not only let it fly but does so with incredible control and is able to achieve swing in conditions where others would not even be able to make the ball veer a touch. The hour after tea at the SCG on Sunday was one of those times.

With the tour match going nowhere, as most tour matches tend to, Graeme Smith decided it would be a good idea to let the quicks off their leashes for a little while and Steyn went wild. Perhaps one of the thoughts in the back of his mind was that Shane Watson has been injured and Ricky Ponting remains a doubt for the first Test so one of Rob Quiney or Phillip Hughes may earn a place in the XI and he wanted to rough them up. Knowing Steyn, that was probably not the case, but he did it anyway.

In typical bloody-minded fashion, he bowled his five overs as though they were his last. Fast seems too gentle a word to describe it; Steyn was positively zooming. He reached a speed that Jacques Rudolph, who was fielding in the slips, thought was "around 150kph," and had the ball hissing past Hughes' ears. "I played against him a couple of years ago where he bowled the same kind of spell," Rudolph said with a knowing smile which suggested he was pleased not to have to be on the end of Steyn again.

Rudolph said Steyn used the opportunity to "get into good rhythms," ahead of what is expected to be a seamer's playground in Brisbane. "It seams and that suits us because those are the kind of wickets we play on at home," Rudolph said, before adding a cautionary word. "For our bowlers, it will be important not to get carried away with the bounce. The length will be important, and we need to settle into that as quickly as possible."

While working on the length, Steyn fired in a few bouncers, one of which hit wicketkeeper AB de Villiers flush on the fingers. He took a few moments to recover and there may have been fears about him picking up yet another injury, having already battled a back and ankle problem in the last three weeks. Rudolph said it was nothing major. "If you see how quickly Dale was bowling, you would understand," he said. "AB even stayed on the field - he's fine."

As much as the spell was an opportunity for Steyn to show off, it was also one for the batsmen to prove their ability to withstand. Liam Davis could not and succumbed to a pull shot that went as wrong as can go. It gave Hughes a chance to bat though and he managed admirably. Having had history with the South Africans - after his superb run against them in 2009 - it was clear he was the target and he played an accomplished, defensive innings without being rattled by the quality of the bowling he was facing.

"I hope that Phil Hughes grows a leg from that," Andrew McDonald, the Australia A captain said. "Dale ramped it up from the first innings. I think it was quite evident he knew he was only going to bowl five or six overs and he threw everything at our two batters out there. For them to come through that against the world's best bowler, or one of the world's best bowlers, is a fantastic effort."

The second South African bowling effort lasted only 10 overs but that short session was a enough to provide a tasty entree to the main course. It was a chance for Australia's fringe batsmen to have their say as injuries continue to mount in their camp and a telling reminder of what Steyn can do.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

RSS Feeds: Firdose Moonda

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Buckers410 on (November 6, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

Many people have said that AUS batting backup is weak. But over last couple of weeks we have seen many a good batsman. Phill Hughes is finding a little bit of form for SA. Khawaja hit two half century's for Qld against a pretty good Nsw attack. We saw what Doolan did. Steve Smith said he getting in AUS team through batting and made a couple of good scores already this season. Quiney making test debut. Joe Burns already two century's this summer. Ferguson scored a ton but is inconsistent. Liam Davis was looking the goods end of last season. Even Cozzie down in Tassie going well. Finch will need to be there some time soon

Posted by Meety on (November 5, 2012, 23:51 GMT)

@CricHorizon on (November 05 2012, 11:41 AM GMT) - Jared's comment was a good/valid one, although slightly tongue in cheek Ronnie Mac said it was about the best 1 not out he had ever seen! So IF we were talking about a 2nd innings with the scores level, Steyn rampaging in, & Hughes sees off Steyn & the new ball I wouldn't call it a failure - particularly as he is not out. His first innings was a failure!

Posted by   on (November 5, 2012, 16:00 GMT)

sa attack can be unplayable

Posted by punter-gilly-haydos-mcgrath-warne on (November 5, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

RandyOz my question is who does want to see Cowan in the team except for the selectors and the Saffers? I think it should be Quiney opening and Doolan, Kwaja and Burns fighting for the number three position.

Posted by ozwriter on (November 5, 2012, 11:41 GMT)

@ Jared. well said mate. 1 run of 27 balls, thats a failure doesn't matter what spin you put on it.

Posted by ozwriter on (November 5, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

randyoz. well said. 147 runs in 7 innings @ 21. pathetic cowan is.

Posted by zenboomerang on (November 5, 2012, 11:20 GMT)

@Meety... Seems your braging surpasses your "allegely" FC stats that your gloat about... Why don't you bring us up to date with your stats... lol...

Posted by Meety on (November 5, 2012, 10:44 GMT)

@GBSA on (November 05 2012, 09:19 AM GMT) - win by one tests.

Posted by shovwar on (November 5, 2012, 10:04 GMT)

I think SA would have the last laugh when the series is over no matter how many battles OZS win.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (November 5, 2012, 9:36 GMT)

What KP was able to do against Steyn was NOTHING compared to the hammering Steyn received from AB De Villiers in an IPL game this year. Steyn was on fire - he had already bowled a maiden over to Chris Gayle - but AB knows him well enough that he was able to accurately guess where Steyn was going to pitch each ball, and he took 23 runs off him in one over: 6 2 4 6 4 1 Steyn could not believe what he was seeing, laughing and shaking his head at the same time.

Posted by GBSA on (November 5, 2012, 9:19 GMT)

Does Anyone know what series result Aussie need to regain the Number 1 test status, 1-0, 2-0, 3-0???

Posted by Saffie1987 on (November 5, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

All this talk about Kp Smashing Steyn! Steyn has won more battles against Kp than the other way around, so who cares of he once in a blue moon hit a 149 against Steyn and Co?

Posted by Chris_P on (November 5, 2012, 6:16 GMT)

Good stuff by Steyn. Any batsman worth his salt needs (deep down wants) to face top quality bowling, you always want to know if you can cut it at this level. That's the reason guys are picked, to see if they can handle the heat.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

Aussie will be totally smashed.........Waiting for the great series so far....

Posted by RandyOZ on (November 5, 2012, 5:55 GMT)

I dont wanna see Cowan anywhere near the test team. Long term averages do not lie.

Posted by Hilas on (November 5, 2012, 5:40 GMT)

I'd lve to c kp play steyn like tht on a fast bouncy wicket..

Posted by   on (November 5, 2012, 2:24 GMT)

John H. Chambers. Of course Steyn is not invincible. He's gonna have his bad days. And against Pietersen maybe Steyn didn't have a bad day, maybe Pietersen was too good. But helllllloooooo! ITS KP YOUR TALKING ABOUT! Austrailia don't have a KP! And then if not Steyn, then the other SA bowlers will tear em up! SA FTW!

Posted by Meety on (November 4, 2012, 22:57 GMT)

@__PK on (November 04 2012, 21:04 PM GMT) - well he did get Davis out! Point taken though!

Posted by Front-Foot_lunge on (November 4, 2012, 22:30 GMT)

Hubris is now the sole preserve of the England cricket team...and some of my painful fellow fans.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2012, 22:20 GMT)

Steyn's not invincible. In the second test in England recently, Kevin Pietersen took it to Steyn, even hitting him over the bowler's head for a straight six. Steyn just looked amazed. And Pietersen's continued assault on Steyn and the others and his century saved the match for England.and

Posted by __PK on (November 4, 2012, 21:04 GMT)

...and at the end of this fiery spell, Quiney and Hughes were still there. So, the greatest fast bowler in the world, with nothing to lose and only a short spell to bowl, completely failed to dismiss either of Australia's second string openers. First battle of the season to Australia.

Posted by Peterincanada on (November 4, 2012, 17:03 GMT)

@Marcio Naturally I didn't see the game but I think this must have given Hughes confidence. Since 2009 he has had a pretty rough time of it. The series against Chris Martin was particularly difficult. He has been altering his method for nearly 4 years with mixed results and the pressure must have been enormous. I really hope he has got it right this time and can quiet the likes of Jared Hansen.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2012, 13:34 GMT)

hahaha well said Jared :)

Posted by SurlyCynic on (November 4, 2012, 12:44 GMT)

I don't think I've ever seen so much hyperbole about such a weak group of Australians. As RandyOz would say, the 'cupboard is bare'.

Posted by Neeta on (November 4, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

I haven't seen this match..but I can safely say that the spell Steyn bowled to Tendulkar in the Cape Town test in Jan 2011 was the best I had seen from him. Only SRT was able to negotiate him and he did it with some luck. Pujara and Dhoni had no answer to him. Pujara was bowled by an outswinger that pitched on legstump and clipped the offstump. A fast bowler swinging the ball like a legspinner spins the ball. It was just amazing. Truly wonderful to see that great bowlers like Steyn still remain in the game.

Posted by Smahuta on (November 4, 2012, 11:24 GMT)

Disco Bob, no big deal with philly not taking a wicket in a warm up match. Dont read too much into these matches, there is nothing in it so the intensity is not replicated like it is in a test match. The same happened in Eng earlier this year when the eng press and fans were saying he was not all that. Didnt take long for them to change theor minds. Stats dont lie, but if you only look at tour match results, they do.

Posted by Marcio on (November 4, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

I don't think I have ever seen so much hyperbole to talk up a side before a test series in AUS before. I would understand it if SA had actually gotten, say, within 200 runs of their opponents. Maybe even looked like winning the game! But no, a firey spell in the last afternoon of the game when the bowlers had nothing to lose (and no more overs to follow) and the batsmen everything to lose, is written up as some kind of superhuman performance. The last 30 mins of the game was a minor part of the game, and should have constituted a paragraph at the end of the report, not an entire over-the-top article in itself. Naturally Hughes was defensive. If he'd gotten out he would have been completely thrashed in the media & by the public, but had no chance to actually score runs. Good on him for battling through! Gutsy!

Posted by Hammond on (November 4, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

@BuddyLee- Australia isn't the team that it used to be. It seems actually if the hubris is fading and we might be actually going to see a sportsmanlike attitude from the squad with a calm and decent captain at the helm.. no blowhards in sight. So let's bring this on, shame it is only a 3 test series.

Posted by Chark_attack on (November 4, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

Cannot wait for the summer to start its going to be an amazing hard fought series and would love to see some batsman from both teams get roughed up by bowlers batsman have had it to easy over the last few years

Posted by disco_bob on (November 4, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

We already know about Steyn no surprises there, surely the big news is that Flanders didn't take a wicket.

Posted by BuddyLee on (November 4, 2012, 8:41 GMT)

Fire in Babylon, party in my pants. Steyn is my favorite bowler and the best I have seen in a dog's age, and is an all time great in the making. I'd like to some Aussies batsmen dinged. I don't want to see injuries, but there is something so very satisfying about seeing blowhards cut down by their own medicine. The pitches are slower these days, and with all the hi-tech protection, quicks aren't as threatening as they used to be. But if Morkel fires, big if, he can make life hell for any team. As ever, there is no bigger danger than the next ball being even better than the one you just faced. Siddle and Co. is a fine attack, this should be a good if brief contest.

Posted by Meety on (November 4, 2012, 8:20 GMT)

Yep, Steyn is a reasonably okay bowler! (cough!)

Posted by RJHB on (November 4, 2012, 8:17 GMT)

Yeah big sauce Steyn is definitely up for the series, knew that from the way he upped himself bowling against the Aussies in the WT20. It'd be great if both teams lifted a cog for the show and put test cricket back on the map and T20 back in its place in the corner where it belongs!

Posted by   on (November 4, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

Phil Hughes gets his picture on the front page for scoring 1 run off of 27 balls.... well, I guess nothing can amaze me now.

Posted by disco_bob on (November 4, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

Looks like there's going to be some epic battles in this series. Only 5 days to go, yabba gabba doo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Firdose MoondaClose
Tour Results
Australia v South Africa at Perth - Nov 30-Dec 3, 2012
South Africa won by 309 runs
Australia v South Africa at Adelaide - Nov 22-26, 2012
Match drawn
Australia v South Africa at Brisbane - Nov 9-13, 2012
Match drawn
Australia A v Sth Africans at Sydney - Nov 2-4, 2012
Match drawn
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days