ESPNcricinfo Awards 2010 February 14, 2011

Steyn wants to emulate Lee

Dale Steyn wants to bowl, like his hero Brett Lee, at 145 kph when he's 34 and VVS Laxman wants to prove himself in the IPL with his new team Kochi.

There's bad news for batsmen the world over: Dale Steyn wants to bowl, like his hero Brett Lee, at 145 kph even when he's 34. And bad news for bowlers in the IPL: VVS Laxman, peerless in the five-day format, wants to prove himself in the game's shortest version with his new team Kochi. These were some of the revelations by the two players, who received ESPNcricinfo's Test batting and bowling awards for 2010 in Bangalore on Monday.

An evening that included Ian Chappell and Sanjay Manjrekar was marked by nostalgia, humour and insight into cricket technique and strategy. Chappell warmed up for the evening with a chat with cricket historian Ramachandra Guha on the relative merits of Bishan Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna, and how the art of spin bowling had changed over the years.

Then it was down to the main event - a discussion involving the two players and the two commentators. When Laxman, modest as ever, said that in his early days, he used to struggle against spin while being comfortable against pace, Chappell related a conversation he had with Shane Warne after Laxman's 281 in the 2001 Kolkata Test. "Warnie didn't think he had bowled too badly. I said, 'you didn't mate, but when someone comes down three metres and drives you through mid-on, and then next ball you go a bit higher and shorter, and he pulls you through midwicket, that's not bad bowling, that's just bloody good batting.'"

While Warne may have struggled against Laxman in Kolkata, Steyn blew the Indians away in Nagpur with his late movement at furious pace. Manjrekar felt that despite South Africa's clinical emphasis on discipline and routine, Steyn brings a Pakistani flavour to fast bowling. Steyn said that instead of looking to develop muscles, a fast bowler's fitness work should be geared towards making sure that he is able to bowl quick for as long as possible. "You want your fast bowlers to run in and bowl at 140 kph at the start of the day, and at the same speed at the end of the day as well."

The respect both men have for each other showed when Laxman said that the Indian batsmen just looked to get over Steyn's spell. "Everyone knows he is the best bowler in the world at the moment. We don't look to give him too many wickets, even though he takes lots of them." Steyn recalled that the mood Laxman was in Durban, he didn't know where to bowl to him. "I got the feeling that this guy had me worked out before I actually bowled the delivery. It's a terrible feeling to have," Steyn said. "I felt I was wasting my energy. I can't remember him playing any flashy shot in that innings. He just waited for us to drop it short or bowl on the pads."

Laxman was also in the zone in Mohali against Australia, where he battled a bad back to take India to an improbable one-wicket win in the company of the tail. That innings will also be remembered for how the usually unflappable Laxman suddenly waved his bat threateningly at Pragyan Ojha and admonished him for not taking a single. "Instead of people admiring the knock and the win, everyone was asking me what I said to Ojha," Laxman said. "It came with not wanting to give up the match when we had come so close. It was important for me to take the strike as it was the fifth ball of the over. Ojha got a little confused because MS Dhoni had got out in a similar manner, and he did not want to lose his wicket. But the anger just came out, I myself was surprised, and apologised to Ojha at the end of the over."

Laxman will have few regrets when he looks back at his Test career, but he said that there is still some unfinished business. "I just want to prove myself in the Twenty20 format. So my next target will be to do well for Team Kochi in the IPL."

Steyn looked back at what got him hooked on to the game, and said that Jonty Rhodes' run-out of Inzamam-ul-Haq in the 1992 World Cup stood out. "I must have imitated that in my backyard so many times. I used to look up to Allan Donald and Brett Lee. I was changing room attendant during the 2003 World Cup, and I saw Brett, and I couldn't believe it. He was just fantastic. I want to be like him when I am 34. He still runs in and bowls 145-150 kph, and is an incredible athlete."

The lean yet lethal Steyn epitomises what, according to him, Jacques Kallis often says about fast bowling - "you don't have to be built like Tarzan and bowl like Jane." On the other hand, there is Laxman who, according to Manjrekar, "finds comfort when others are in discomfort."

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • diren on February 16, 2011, 5:30 GMT

    @ Dr.Qwert what you mean SA dont have a openning bat?? Smith and Amla are the best openers around today

  • I.A. on February 16, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    I think the real test for Steyn will come when he has couple of bad matches in a row. How will he bowl if he is hit around (not easy to do it unless he has a real bad day).Will he continue to bowl aggressively or try to contain runs. Second factor would how will he react when all other bowlers are hit around. will he pull the whole team up with one helluva spell. Bowlers like Steyn are the ones who keep test match interesting after the retirement of Mcgrath, Warne, Gillespie (most underrated bowler ever)Kumble, Murali, and Wasim, Saqlain etc before them. The spell that Steyn bowl to Sachin is best I have watched in long time. It was awesome. in the time when watching every ball of ODI is on decline, Steyn makes us watch Test match ball by ball!!!

  • Sridharan on February 15, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    All that VVS has to do is just rotate the strike and keep one end up. He can maintain a strike rate of 100 very easily. That will do. He need not go for lofted strokes and must just play each ball on its merits. With his ability to pierce the well set field, he must just keep his cool even in T20!! Hope that Mahela will give him the required encouragement and opportunities that Gilchrist denied him. Good luck Laxman.

  • David on February 15, 2011, 13:57 GMT

    Dale Steyn is selling himself short looking at brett lee for what to be like, he is the best pace bowler i've seen & i'd say comfortably better than McGrath. he just bowls so many unplayables. South Africa at the moment are an openning bat & & quality spin bowler away from being every bit as dominant as Australia was at their peak. Laxman unfortuneately has spent his career in the shadows of Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag & others & has never got the recognition he deserves. on his day he just looks impossible to get out. & unfortuneately as an aussie fan i've seen a few too many of those days for my liking!

  • Craig on February 15, 2011, 11:54 GMT

    Steyn is certainly heading for the status of best test bowler ever, hopefully his body holds up. He doesn't seem quite able to work that same magic with the white ball yet, but give him a little time and he'll figure it out. What is however obvious from the article is that this is a man with tremendous humility, despite his rapid rise to the top. Well done Dale, you make us proud to be South African.

  • Manesh on February 15, 2011, 11:04 GMT

    @ diri. Only matches of SA players can be considered as great. Rest of them are worst...especially something against SA. :P

  • Dummy4 on February 15, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    lee is about 5 or 6 years older than steyn, to compare them now would be wrong,unfair advantage to the younger guy... i like lee, he's my fav bowler ever, also love steyn, i think he'll be great..lets just see if steyn stays fit enuff to play as many games as lee.. also, i think lee will perform better in this world cup.... if i'd have to choose, i'll pick lee any day, he's just and outstanding sportsman.....

  • Richard on February 15, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Brett Lee's ODI stats suggest he is a better one-day bowler than Steyne. Perhaps that is what brought on Dales comments.

  • Rahul on February 15, 2011, 8:42 GMT

    Kudos to cricinfo for sticking to cricket and awarding deserving candidates by consensus of cricket lovers and legends of the game. Also the way the evening was carried out with refreshing conversation and handing over the awards without any gimmicks was really nice to see. I hope others could take a lesson or two from these awards. Btw congratulations to VVS and Steyn, both are magnificent TEST cricketers and am sure most cricket lovers adore them.

  • diren on February 15, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    No way is Lee in the same class as steyn!!!! Steyn is the best fast bowler in history! and King kallis is a funny guy lol. He always has some funny comment . In the famous 438 game during the lunch break after Aus had smashed the SA bowlers all over the park the SA dressing room was down and demoralised .Suddenly out of the blue Kallis says in a very serious voice " Guys i think aus are 20 runs short of a good total" The whole dressing room had a giggle and relaxed abit and then went out and smahed aus like never seen before. Remember Gibbs's 175!!!! To me the greatest ODI innings( better than Sachin's 200)

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