South Africa in Australia 2012-13 November 28, 2012

Steyn charges himself up for decider


When Dale Steyn shows signs of irritability, the opposition should start worrying. The last time Steyn looked really angry, he returned from an ordinary day in the field to take two wickets in two overs and spark an England collapse that later proved to be series-defining.

In Perth, he will turn up after "two Tests where I have not done too well," and the bristle has begun. "Why would I want to come to Australia and be below average or average? You always want to come here and take five-fors," Steyn said. "Just like as a batter you want to come here and score hundreds under immense pressure against one of the best teams in one of the most difficult places to tour in the world. Hopefully I can have a fantastic game in this one."

On average, Steyn has taken just under five wickets a Test in the 59 he has played. In Brisbane, he claimed only one of the five the South African attack managed in total. In Adelaide, he got closer with four scalps and thought he bowled a lot better. Although there was no swing, Steyn had better control and a touch more pace but he stopped short of spitting fire.

The smouldering mood he was in at the SCG late on the last day of the tour match has yet to ignite, though. There, he sent down one of his fastest spells in Jacques Rudolph's recent memory and it may take a real pressure-cooker of a situation before he explodes again.

Something like Perth. Being the Test that will decide the series, Australia coach Mickey Arthur expects that Steyn will be readying for the big occasion and the man himself confirmed that. "There is a bit more want, a bit more need and that extra push. I know I will probably have a couple days off after this and I will do everything I can to get a result and to get the wickets South Africa need in this match."

But he won't be able to do it alone. Steyn emphasised the rest of the attack will have to keep adding to the incremental progress they made from Brisbane to Adelaide so that they bring the full package to Perth. "It's going to take everything out of everyone to win it," he said.

Although it is Steyn who has become Graeme Smith's go-to man, in the same way Peter Siddle is Michael Clarke's, he maintains he is not the only one with the tools to do the job. His reputation, according to him, was built only on been given the opportunity to dust off the tool box more than most and knowing how to use them well. "I don't think I am the best bowler in the world and I am not the most skilful," he said. "I am just fortunate enough to play every game for South Africa, I bowl a lot of overs for South Africa and I am able to take wickets when we need them.

"Hopefully I can take wickets in this game. That's what I am employed to do and that's what I love doing. It comes down to one last game and it's going to be a team contribution to winning this series. It's not going to be just me standing up and taking seven or five wickets. Morne Morkel took eight in the last game. We will need a massive contribution from all of our bowlers."

One of the regular members of the attack who will not be able to contribute in any way is Jacques Kallis. While the physiotherapist is racing against the clock to get Kallis fit to bat, he has been ruled out from bowling in Perth and will leave a significant gap. "He is massive for us," Steyn said. "Everyone can see he has been batting really well. But he can also hold up an end, he can take wickets, he is a valuable asset to this unit. An injury likes this puts a massive emphasis on what a great cricketer he really is and what a massive contribution he makes to the side. If he just misses one game, it's massive but the day he retires, it's going to be a whole different story."

Even without him, South Africa showed some glimpses of the attack that are known as the best in the world. "When we picked up the last five wickets in Adelaide for not many runs is pretty much how I know this attack can bowl and hopefully if we can string it together properly here in Perth, which is just around the corner for us, we could go home 1-nil."

With that in mind, Steyn extended his bullishness to the whole team. South Africa need only a draw to keep their Test mace but Steyn warned that they are still aiming for the Australian jugular. "We want to win the series. We didn't come down to Australia to draw. We've played below what we are capable of but Australia have thrown everything they can at us and they still haven't beaten us. If we can play to what our potential is, I think we will go home 1-nil."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2012, 22:28 GMT

    Rain, injuries, age, excuses excuses. The character of a team is measured amongst other factors by how you react to unexpected problems. a few months down the line statistics will say two tests drawn at home or rather two tests drawn away from home. Which team do you praise then? there are many "if" that seem to be the premises for debate. What if Ponting was on form. What if Philander was bowling, What if Barry Richards was still part of the team or Shane Warne or Allan Donald had not aged. Point is the match was played with all those ifs. The home team always has a home ground advantage and should win. a mommoth score resulting in a draw is as effective as throwing 200 punches in a round of boxing and still getting a draw. When everyone was hyped up about the OZ 1st innings &celebrating an OZ win, i said a draw would be so easy. it was. OZ the number 1 team, disregard the official ratings and make yours the official ones cos you are ans Oz supporter same as Steyn's 3yr old rankings

  • Mick on November 29, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    CANNOT WAIT for this one. I'm torn on Steyn as an Australian fan as I'd love to see him in full flight at the WACA, but fear what that might mean for my team. I have a sneaking suspicion/fear the Saffers are going to run away with this one but the Aussies have surprised me (and many other naysayers) all series so let's hope for a cracker. If the pitch has venom this one will be decided by one or two batsmen willing to stand up to the barrage and turn the game on its head.

  • Dale on November 29, 2012, 21:39 GMT

    @floorwalker Pattinson might not be ranked very high but that is simply because he is inexperienced. He is a very very good fast bowler and i can see him climbing the rankings very quickly if he can stay fit for a prolonged period of time.

    Not only that we didn't have any real all rounders because of the Selection Panels blunderous decision to pick Quiney in placement of watson. So Pattinson's impact on this game would have been huge in 2 different ways. First he's a very aggressive pace bowler, the kind you need when a team has shut up shop and trying to block their way to a draw. Second he reduces the work loads of the other two pace bowlers alowing them to put more quality into their bowling.

    Philander was replaced by Kleinveldt so you weren't missing a bowler, maybe some quality but you still had that option. Losing Kallis was big but not the be all and end all. SA needs a decent spinner Tahir was garbage and basically set up the test for Australia

  • michael on November 29, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    Gotta love Jonesy and Randy, the comedy value is immense. If this current Australia side ever gets to no.1 it will be a travesty. Two good batsman and an injury list as long as your arm. A third rate spinner and a wicketkeeper who makes MS Dhoni look assured. The rankings are at the moment a pretty fair reflection on where everybody is at the moment. It wasn't that long ago that Australia were getting thumped in the ashes, losing at home to NZ and getting bowled out for 90 odd.

  • Hanro on November 29, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    There is a lot of talk about SA's number one pace attack. Let's be honest the attack failed in the first test, but to draw any conclusions from the second test is ridiculous. A bowling unit hunts in packs as rightly stated by Steyn. It takes both bowlers to build up pressure.

    So far cricinfo has been dissapointing. There has been a lot of talk that an extra bowler in the second test could have won it for Aus. The said bowler is ranked in the 30's two or 3 positions above Kallis. SA lost Philander who is ranked second (doesn't just 'happen'). At the rate Philander is taking wickets I'm not sure how anyone overlooks that. In a breathe SA lost an effective opening pair Steyn/Philander and a more than useful bowler in Kallis. That I believe was the difference in the second test. The short lived success of Kallis on the first day also indicates that Philander would have brought plenty to the game.

    Anyway not to harp on...all I'm saying is that you can't criticize half a bowling attack.

  • des on November 29, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Funny to see comments about 'arrogant South Africans'' from the country whose papers celebrated the win after day 4 in ADelaide!

  • Richard on November 29, 2012, 13:16 GMT

    @Bollo-I have a nasty feeling that Steyn's going to wake up in Perth and give us a real going over, he just has to fire soon and the Aussie batting line-up still looks less than completely solid. If Morkel gets his length right in Perth he'll be a real handful too. Things can get out of hand in a real hurry at the WACA and it will be important which side is really psyched up to perform from the start.

  • Marcio on November 29, 2012, 12:32 GMT

    No doubt Steyn is the best bowler on both teams. Also no doubt Australia has a better balanced attack overall, at least to date. There is this issue of repeating "when we play our best we will win", and AUS can't get any better" which seems to be an oft-stated belief in certain parts. I don't think this is a good way to approach cricket matches. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that Australia too have a decent side, and will be fired up for a win! Plenty of players have room for improvement: Imagine if Warner, Ponting & Watson were at their best! At the very least, this series has shown that the gap between the sides is not the huge one some media pundits and fans have crowed about. Regardless of the result in the third test, Australia will win plenty of test matches in the near future if they keep playing the kind of cricket we have seen so far in this series. Good luck to both teams.

  • Dave on November 29, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    @Biggus - the most measured comment of the day, pretty much mirrored my thoughts. Should be a fascinating match; Morkel has been the pick of the bowlers so far, with Siddle and Pattinson not far behind. Lyon has also been solid. Steyn has been pretty disappointing, and Philander is yet to take a wicket on tour. I think leaving out Siddle and Hilfenhaus is a good move by Aus - very tough decision obviously, but I think this one could go the distance as well.

    Johnson and Watson have a huge role to play as do SAf`s 3rd/4th bowlers. Kallis? - big decision. Should be a thrilling finale. Hope we see a result, and a match to remember...and a ton to Punter. Honour is due.

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Protease should gift victory to Aussies. A great career deserves a victory in his last test match.

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