South Africa in England 2012 July 13, 2012

'It doesn't need to be pretty' - Steyn


Dale Steyn has admitted to a win-at-all-costs attitude on the tour of England, knowing that victory will end years of being second-best and give South Africa the No. 1 Test ranking.

South Africa have been top of the ICC Test rankings only briefly in the past, for four months back in 2008, but have hovered close by since then. With an unbeaten record away from home since 2006, Steyn believes it is time for the team to stamp their authority.

"We don't care how the series goes, as long as we win," Steyn said in Canterbury, where South Africa are facing Kent in their final warm-up before the first Test at The Oval. "It doesn't need to be pretty, it doesn't need to be beautiful with guys scoring hundreds and guys taking five-fors. We just want to get the job done."

The contest between the two bowling attacks has been the most anticipated match-up of the series and while he would not draw a comparison, Steyn called South Africa's current pack "fantastic."

Graeme Smith, the Test captain, has also hailed the unit as one of the best he has worked with and attributed consistency in selection to their fine performances of late. "We've got experience and the guys know how to bowl in different conditions," Steyn said. "It's also been the same group of guys for quite a while and there's a lot of trust between us."

Although Steyn is often referred to as the kingpin of the attack, he denied that there is any hierarchy among the bowlers in contrast to England where Jimmy Anderson is widely perceived to be the guiding force in the group. He expresses the belief that the likes of Morne Morkel, Lopsy Tsotsobe, Vernon Philander and the leg spinner Imran Tahir share equal responsibility.

"There's nobody that leads the attack. If you are looking for a leader, you're always looking for the guys that have been around the longest but when it comes to bowling, any of us are capable of doing the job," Steyn said. "It's not like we are looking at a leader to stand up and take five wickets for us on the day. Whether its Morne or Lopsy or Imran, all of them are capable of bowling teams out by themselves."

Despite that confidence in his team mates, Steyn remains the go-to man when Smith needs wickets because of his superior speed.

"There are times when my team needs me to bowl really fast and make something happen. You need those types of players who can break an end open for you," Steyn said. "That's something that I've got in my arsenal that Graeme treasures. When we need a wicket, he tends to throw the ball to me because I can make it happen with pace."

It showed in the tour match against Kent, when Smith brought Steyn on to break an opening stand which had grown to 81. Steyn had an appeal in his first over and got a wicket in his second. But Steyn knows that with that expectation there is responsibility as well. "I also need to be bowling in the right areas. You can't bowl at 150 and be bowling it all over the show, that's not going to help." Even though wicket-taking is always on his mind, Steyn said he has no preference for which scalps he picks up and has not identified any of the England batsman specifically as a prized scalp.

"I've seen South Africa on previous tours where I haven't played for them in Australia and Glenn McGrath and Mike Hussey put on 150-run partnership and the value of that tenth wicket means a lot more than the ninth one," he said. "It just shows you that you can't put too much emphasis on one particular person, you have to worry about everything."

He also does not mind if the spoils are shared as long as the team benefits. "Even if I only take one wicket in the whole series, as long as we win, I will still be on the balcony with a big smile on my face and I will be stoked," he said.

This South African squad sound a focused bunch with common purpose. But, Steyn said, they also have a bigger picture in mind. Mark Boucher's serious eye injury which forced him to retire on Tuesday still hangs heavily on everyone.

"Everyone is going on and on about being the No. 1 Test side in the world but when one of my friends possibly loses an eye and his whole life is about to change that means so much more to me than any cricket game that I will ever play," he said. "Having said that, I am here to play cricket so I have to focus on that. Reality struck down hard when that happened and it just put things into perspective."

The team have not specifically adopted a "do it for Mark" strategy, according to Steyn, but will try to pay tribute to the veteran wicket-keeper in the best way they can. "We wanted to win this series before the incident. However, it does add a little extra inspiration or motivation because Mark would have wanted to stand on that podium."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • steven on July 16, 2012, 15:28 GMT

    to stand up and take five wickets for us on the day. Whether its Morne or Lopsy or Imran, all of them .... anyone notice a name missing here???? Curious that he mentions no one needs to take a 5 for when it is philander who has been getting bags in almost every game.... bit of bad blood between the steyn and philander???

  • Nicholas on July 16, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    @risimati_l (post on July 16 2012, 10:46 AM GMT): I don't know who's been saying that England has the superior batting line-up, but I wouldn't predict this series on stats alone. In the ICC Player Rankings, D.W. Steyn is ranked as a 'Test Allrounder'... Sorry, but he's not going to make any team of mine for his batting alone! Stats are nice and mostly work when there's 100 games, but these days sadly it's hard to get even 3...

  • John on July 16, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    @ AKS286 on (July 15 2012, 17:40 PM GMT) As a Somerset fan , I'm also a big fan of Tres. The guy is a legend at the club and I believe he's making his comeback from injury for the 2nd XI. He has been out injured for most of this season. R_U_4_REAL_NICK has already explained why he retired from Eng. He could not tour due to his depression and it would not be good for both parties to have a player who could only play at home. As a Somerset fan this has been good. Last season his form was immense. Hoggard is now pretty much a journeyman , Jones seems to start finding a bit of rhythm and then gets injured again and Harmisson I believe has been loaned out to another county such is his poor form

  • Lesley on July 16, 2012, 10:46 GMT

    the theory which says England has a better batting line up is just that a theory before anyone say such i suggest they go onto the players link and see all the batting averages for players, while you doing that you can also visit the ICC rankings for test players you will see whose dominating those lists as well the only advantage that england has is that they playing at home. SA has the better talent in our team and may the best team win #pureprotea

  • Anupam on July 16, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (July 15 2012, 20:28 PM GMT) Ok but he can play odi & t20 for ENG. ECB & senior players must talk to him and they don't discussed about his early retirement when he was taking it. if he is ready to play odi & t20 then eng team will become more strong and most important thing replacement of KP.

  • Nicholas on July 15, 2012, 20:28 GMT

    @AKS286, (post on July 15 2012, 17:40 PM GMT): I also liked Marcus Trescothick. As explained in his profile here on Cricinfo, and also in his autobiography 'Coming Back to Me', depression and stress have blighted much of his life, forcing his untimely retirement from international cricket. I loved watching him opening for England... except against McGrath and Lee who sometimes got the better of him!

  • Anupam on July 15, 2012, 17:40 GMT

    someone is talking about INJURIES i bet can one beat KIWIS in the injuries, @JG2704 i want to ask you my favourite batsman of ENG is TRESCOTHICK i really miss him alot in every series, why he took early retirement? and why not he tried to comeback again?. why not harmison, hoggard in the international side. i heard simon jones is back in county and he performance is really well is it true? give me answer trescothick is my one of the favourite batsman.

  • Nicholas on July 15, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    @praveen4honestremark: "It's just quality of play i like first"... That's great, but when you keep coming out with comments like "I see some English fans already crying even before series started. Hahahaha. Funny they are. :D :D :D", not to mention several posts during the England:Australia series, even you should be able to forgive others for thinking you're more anti-England as opposed to just enjoying and speculating good quality cricket between teams. This article for example just summarises Steyn's thinking and 'dressing-room feelings' of the upcoming series. Even Steyn doesn't come out with trashy remarks like "I'm/we're going to blow England over cheaply...". If you seriously predict a 3-0 thrashing, then sorry if I've misjudged you, but perhaps you'd like to back such statements up... justify them somehow? I myself am still 50:50.

  • John on July 15, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    @praveen4honestremark on (July 14 2012, 17:21 PM GMT) - Apologies for not noticing your comms giving us Kudos in the past. Were they giving unreserved credit or were they also saying about them playing a wekened Indian side , winning toss etc as that was what most Indians seemed to say after that series? I just felt it would have been better - after your Aus prediction went wrong to either say "Well done Eng" or "Well done Eng - I knew Aus were not playing well but I still thought they had enough" . The fact is that on your last prediction you knew Lee and Watson were out when you made it but then cited that as a reason after Eng won. Please publish.

  • Martin on July 15, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    @ashes61 - hey mate, welcome back. Where have you been? :-)

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