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
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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

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© 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.

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