|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
December 29, 2004
It's been a pretty torrid Test baptism for Dale Steyn, South Africa's 21-year-old pace bowler, who has been forced to toil against England's batsmen on two uncompromising surfaces at Port Elizabeth and now Durban. And his learning curve got even steeper this evening, as he was sent out to face the media after another tough day in the field for South Africa.
Steyn, however, was upbeat about his team's prospects, after England's late declaration had given them an outside sniff of victory. "There's a good vibe in the dressing-room," he insisted. "We've got nine men in hand, we want to win, and we're going out there on the fifth day of a good Test to have a go."
Steyn's figures today made painful reading - 25.3 overs, 1 for 122. "It's been a tough start," he admitted, "but I'm willing to learn, and whether it's the hard way or the easy way, I'm up for it and looking forward to the challenge. I'll still be running in and getting in everyone's faces, and if it works it works - I'll still go home smiling."
Things got a little out of hand for Steyn during the closing stages of England's innings, as he was twice pulled for six by Geraint Jones, just out of the reach of Hashim Amla at midwicket, and ended up having to post a back-stop to stem the flow of uppercuts. "That's the way it goes," he shrugged. "Any other day he could have skyed it straight up and been caught by the keeper. I must have had 30 runs over the keeper's head. That's certainly the first time I've seen a back-stop, and he even saved four!"
But Steyn insisted: "Everyone's been amazing on and off the field. Polly [Shaun Pollock], Makhaya [Ntini], Jacques Kallis. And I've spoken to Allan Donald most mornings. It's made me feel really confident, and the captain has been relaxed all the time, even if I've gone for 20 in the over and there are still three balls to go."
If South Africa's task seems overwhelming, then Steyn was certainly not letting on, and he even managed to put a positive spin on their day in the field. "We looked at the game this morning, and we were almost spot-on in the sort of target we'd be set. Maybe we'd have preferred 30 or 40 runs less, but we've got enough overs and we're happy to chase."
Even after bowling England out for 139 in the first innings, there was not a glimmer of despondency in Steyn's attitude. "To win would be great, to draw would be fine, and of course no-one wants to lose. If we end up with a draw, then so be it. Hopefully we'll level up next game."
Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo. He will be following the England team throughout the Test series in South Africa.
Plays of the day from the fifth ODI in Ranchi
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough