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.
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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

  • diri 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

  • Muyeen 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!!!

  • N.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.

  • Dr.Qwert 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!

  • PROTEAFAN 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.

  • Fast_Track_Bully 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

  • 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.....

  • DickCam 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_78 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.

  • diri 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)

  • diri 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

  • Muyeen 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!!!

  • N.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.

  • Dr.Qwert 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!

  • PROTEAFAN 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.

  • Fast_Track_Bully 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

  • 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.....

  • DickCam 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_78 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.

  • diri 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)

  • Meety on February 15, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster - are you sure you haven't got your bowlers around the wrong way?? Steyn carved India up in the Tests in INDIA less than 12mths ago! LOL! I'm an Ozzy & think Lee is fantatsic - but Steyn is better! @dsig3 - I don't think Steyn has ever clocked over 150 kph, but then again (as was evident in this years Ashes), some guys don't need to!!!! @Bhahwar Satwik - I'd NEVER argue with you on that. Given VVS record against Oz - if he'd of played in the 2003 WC Final (maybe, just maybe the result may of been different - I fear him way more than SRT)!

  • Clan_McLachlan on February 15, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Bl**** cheeky of Manjrekar. How'd he feel if someone said that having a talented fast bowling alrounder like Kapil Dev gave the Indian side a "South African flavour"?

  • anoopshameed on February 15, 2011, 6:25 GMT

    @asmishra, 'Tendulkar was lucky to survive him.'-If Sachin was just plain lucky to survive one of the best spells in the history of Test cricket and score a century of it, well would you say Steyn got the rest because they were unlucky?

  • no_second_chance_for_batsman on February 15, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    VVS will prove what he wants to prove in IPL format too... I have full confidence in VVS...Just my 2 cents, VVS -- please don't play shots for which you were not made. Lofting over inner circle for pace bowlers will do instead of trying to hit them for six as I think VVS is not built for that. Spinners, yes he cant hit them for 6...all the best to VVS. Also, I think KOCHI will make themselves a big favour if they ask Laxman to play for all the 20 overs & to tell him if VVS keeps a SR of 100 that is good.. The rest of the blasters can blast away and this formula should work for KOCHI. Cheers, kumar

  • Bhupal_Pandey on February 15, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    "You don't have to be built like Tarzan and bowl like Jane." Strange coming from Kallis's mouth. He is almost built like Tarzan and on a lighter note bowls like Jane, many a times (particularly now). Of course I think he is the greatest all rounder the world has seen. But his batting is almost in the same class as all time greats, while bowling is good but not great.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on February 15, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    built like Tarzan and bowl like Jane - most probably pointing Akthar after his 3rd or 4 over....lol

  • on February 15, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    Laxman should have been in the World Cup Team for India. We got far too many sloggers/hitters in the team. Both Youvi and Raina are out of form. We already saw in the practice games 230 - 240 is a defendable score and Laxman would have been perfect calming force coming after Sehwag, Tendulkar, Gambhir and followed by Kohli, Dhoni and Pathan.

    Hopefully, Yuvi clicks and we don't feel the need of laxman half way through the world cup.

  • Biggus on February 15, 2011, 3:54 GMT

    I'd like to have heard to conversation about Bedi and Prasanna. I thought Bedi was wonderful and I'm pretty sure I've read somewhere that Chappelli considers Prasanna one of the best, if not the best bowler he faced.

  • on February 15, 2011, 1:51 GMT

    its a good news for team kochi that laxman going to his level best in the ipl

  • on February 15, 2011, 0:52 GMT

    Steyn has potential to move into a zone - one level above where Lee operated. Steyn has to increase some of skills on length, control with speed -McGrath/ Hadlee had that Lee had pace,strength and determination - but not the range. Steyn could develop as he goes on. Kallis is a rare breed in today's world - unassuming all rounder. Great batsmen, terrific fielder and more than useful bowler (more fearsome when he was sub-30 in age). He along with with Laxman - find comfort where others struggle ... we are privileged to seem them bat.

  • RJHB on February 15, 2011, 0:27 GMT

    Not sure why this has become a comparison of Steyn and Lee guys?! Both excellent bowlers but as an Aussie I can honestly hold my hand up and say Steyn is so far a class above. But you have to remember Lee played a different role for Australia, not the line and length bowler he could have been but rather an enforcer, pure speed and intimidation. When he first arrived in test cricket he destroyed India with pace and bounce, but also line, length and away swing. He then got injured and was out for some time. When he came back Steve Waugh wanted him to be the aggressor and concentrate on that speed and bounce aspect while McGrath used all his great subtleties to get the batsmen out. It wasn't until near the end of Lee's career he began to go back to that line and length and movement and his stats improved, but alas injury cut short his twilight years and the cash in time he should have enjoyed. Have to agree with dsig3 though, Steyn could really use a bit more devil in him to be a great.

  • on February 15, 2011, 0:12 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster Steyn is dependant on pitch ?? which bowler is not ?? Just watch his spell in Nagpur or the one vs Sachin in CapeTown, Steyn is by far the best bowler of this generation in test cricket. He is a complete package, with swing, pace and intelligence. We are priviledged to watch him run in and work the batsman over. He is miles ahead of Lee simply because Lee crumbled when the weight of Australian bowling line up shifted on his shoulders, whereas Steyn is already carrying this South African attack.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on February 14, 2011, 22:39 GMT

    Dale Steyn is BETTER than Lee. Well said Tsotsi.@Cpt.Meanster, it is clear that u are one of those fans who don't watch cricket but yet still have alot to say. Some of Steyn's best are on the subcontinent. Watch the games before you talk.

  • dsig3 on February 14, 2011, 22:34 GMT

    Thats a very big call Meanster. I dont know how you can back that up, his statistics are alot better than Lee's. Personally I think Lee was much quicker in his prime but Steyn has wonderful control of swing and seems a lot more accurate. Lee also took an eternity to realise that striving for pace didnt get wickets. Probably only clicked with him when he was 30 odd. I think Steyn already has it. I am a diehard Aussie but Steyn has the potential to be anything. I just wish he was meaner and less of a pansy :)

  • asmishra on February 14, 2011, 22:22 GMT

    This is humility on Steyn's part.This man is a Cobra...Best fast bowler I have seen after Wasim.....Brett Lee is good but the spell which Steyn bowled to Tendulkar was fabulous. Tendulkar was lucky to survive him.. He really is the Cobra, Slim and dangerous..

  • Deenesh on February 14, 2011, 22:19 GMT

    Bowl like Jane Lmao. Kallis is sorta built like Tarzan tho :|

  • on February 14, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    Steyn is a fantastic bowler and should continue to bowl line and length rather than concentrating on sheer pace. He relies on bounce in the pitch, typical for a Fast Bowler. If SA does get to meet India at any stage, SA should have a gully and short mid-wicket at all times when Steyn is bowling. He can create a few chances and maybe turn the tide. Laxman is a good player in Tests and not so good for the ODI and T20s. Big hitting and being creative is the need which is not his forte. But I wish he comes a cropper in this IPL season.

  • on February 14, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    Lee has raw pace. I don't think Steyn can match up to him in terms of "consistent" pace. He can't match Lee in pace even now, forget about matching him when he is 34. However, Steyn is more lethal because of his swing. Steyn is a more complete bowler than Lee.

  • on February 14, 2011, 21:29 GMT

    @cpt.meanster you are totally wrong about steyn mate.his record is one of the best in india.in 5 matches he took 26 wkts in india ave.20,and he has 49 wkts in 11 matches in pak,sl,ind and in uae,so gets your facts right,its lee whose record is not great in india,although he is a fantastic bowler

  • Tsotsi on February 14, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    If Steyn was so inferior to Lee, why is he light years ahead of him in nearly every comparable stat? Lee was a good bowler, but he is only that and prone to breaking down whereas Steyn is setting the standard.

  • Cpt.Meanster on February 14, 2011, 21:05 GMT

    Dale Steyn is a decent bowler but he's packed with deficiencies. For starter, he cannot bowl like Brett Lee because he just doesn't have the skills required to excel in the sub-continent. Unlike Lee, Steyn is over dependent on the pitch and expects it to favor bounce. So in other words he's a bowler who thrives in his own home conditions in SA. I don't expect him to perform too well in this world cup as was evident from his efforts in the warm up game against Zimbabwe.

  • dsig3 on February 14, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    That must make Brett feel very old indeed. If I was a SA fan though I would hope my spearhead bowler had a bit more nasty to him. Him and Morne just seem like really nice guys.

  • The_big_j on February 14, 2011, 20:36 GMT

    Steyn should meet Shoaib who's 36 and bowls 150k's consistently

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  • The_big_j on February 14, 2011, 20:36 GMT

    Steyn should meet Shoaib who's 36 and bowls 150k's consistently

  • dsig3 on February 14, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    That must make Brett feel very old indeed. If I was a SA fan though I would hope my spearhead bowler had a bit more nasty to him. Him and Morne just seem like really nice guys.

  • Cpt.Meanster on February 14, 2011, 21:05 GMT

    Dale Steyn is a decent bowler but he's packed with deficiencies. For starter, he cannot bowl like Brett Lee because he just doesn't have the skills required to excel in the sub-continent. Unlike Lee, Steyn is over dependent on the pitch and expects it to favor bounce. So in other words he's a bowler who thrives in his own home conditions in SA. I don't expect him to perform too well in this world cup as was evident from his efforts in the warm up game against Zimbabwe.

  • Tsotsi on February 14, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    If Steyn was so inferior to Lee, why is he light years ahead of him in nearly every comparable stat? Lee was a good bowler, but he is only that and prone to breaking down whereas Steyn is setting the standard.

  • on February 14, 2011, 21:29 GMT

    @cpt.meanster you are totally wrong about steyn mate.his record is one of the best in india.in 5 matches he took 26 wkts in india ave.20,and he has 49 wkts in 11 matches in pak,sl,ind and in uae,so gets your facts right,its lee whose record is not great in india,although he is a fantastic bowler

  • on February 14, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    Lee has raw pace. I don't think Steyn can match up to him in terms of "consistent" pace. He can't match Lee in pace even now, forget about matching him when he is 34. However, Steyn is more lethal because of his swing. Steyn is a more complete bowler than Lee.

  • on February 14, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    Steyn is a fantastic bowler and should continue to bowl line and length rather than concentrating on sheer pace. He relies on bounce in the pitch, typical for a Fast Bowler. If SA does get to meet India at any stage, SA should have a gully and short mid-wicket at all times when Steyn is bowling. He can create a few chances and maybe turn the tide. Laxman is a good player in Tests and not so good for the ODI and T20s. Big hitting and being creative is the need which is not his forte. But I wish he comes a cropper in this IPL season.

  • Deenesh on February 14, 2011, 22:19 GMT

    Bowl like Jane Lmao. Kallis is sorta built like Tarzan tho :|

  • asmishra on February 14, 2011, 22:22 GMT

    This is humility on Steyn's part.This man is a Cobra...Best fast bowler I have seen after Wasim.....Brett Lee is good but the spell which Steyn bowled to Tendulkar was fabulous. Tendulkar was lucky to survive him.. He really is the Cobra, Slim and dangerous..

  • dsig3 on February 14, 2011, 22:34 GMT

    Thats a very big call Meanster. I dont know how you can back that up, his statistics are alot better than Lee's. Personally I think Lee was much quicker in his prime but Steyn has wonderful control of swing and seems a lot more accurate. Lee also took an eternity to realise that striving for pace didnt get wickets. Probably only clicked with him when he was 30 odd. I think Steyn already has it. I am a diehard Aussie but Steyn has the potential to be anything. I just wish he was meaner and less of a pansy :)