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December 13, 2008
Matthew Hayden is ready to combat the threat of Dale Steyn, the South Africa fast bowler, during Wednesday's first Test at the WACA. Steyn has been the main focus in Australia heading into the three-match contest, and his performance against the world's No. 1 team will help determine whether he is the real deal.
Steyn has 60 wickets at 19.41 in 11 Tests this year, but Hayden felt the true test would be over the next month. "We'll see won't we," Hayden told Sportal when asked whether Steyn is as good as his recent record. "We'll see, because he's obviously going to play Australia and I think we're a pretty good side."
Hayden faced Steyn briefly during the IPL and said he was similar to Allan Donald, the high-class South African, and Brett Lee. "Even though it was a short stint [in the IPL], it was three or four overs in a row," Hayden said. "It was good to get a feel of his shape, he does remind me a little bit of a shorter version of Allan Donald. [He's] also very similar to Brett Lee, so our batters will certainly be shaping up against Binga [Lee] this week, it'll be very important for us."
Barbs have already been exchanged between the two sides, especially by the coaches, and Hayden felt the contest would match the pre-series hype. "We love the on-field and off-field banter which we've all read about and seen in the press," he said. "I think that the two sides are closely matched up, it's going to be one of the best series we've seen out here in Australia for a while.
"They have got a good fast bowling attack and they'll get their shot straightaway in Perth, that's one venue which traditionally aids the fast bowlers. Hopefully it's fast and bouncy, so both bowling units from South Africa and Australia have an opportunity to show what they've got."
Hayden, 37, has struggled for form during the home summer, with only 32 runs from three innings against New Zealand. He played his 100th Test in Adelaide, but was run out - for a record-equalling 12th time - on 24.
"From my point of view I spend hours and hours and hours hitting cricket balls and trying to present myself in the best shape that I can when it comes to the match," he said. "When that sort of thing happens, an unforced error, it affects your momentum, so I've still got a lot of work to do leading up to the Perth Test match."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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