Ireland v South Africa, World Cup 2015, Group B, Canberra March 2, 2015

SA hope fires at home won't dim Steyn's drive

Will the occasion of his 100th ODI lift Dale Steyn from a slump in form? © Getty Images

Cold water was poured on Dale Steyn's preparations for the Ireland game, his 100th in ODIs, when he learned of mountain fires raging in Cape Town, close to his home.

"Massive fire behind my house in Stonehurst! Plz be safe and watch out for the mountain animals trying to escape it, porcupines, tortoises..." he posted on Twitter. "These little animals will also need ur help! Hope the homes don't get hit!"

Stonehurst Estate is located on the Muizenberg Mountains where multiple blazes sprung on Sunday night, forcing the closure of three main passes and evacuation of people from the their home. By Monday morning, South African firefighters and volunteers were still trying to control the spreading flames.

Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel also live in Cape Town along with Faf du Plessis, the other player to tweet his concern, having recently purchased property close to Steyn's. "Crazy mountain fire near my new house. Hope they can stop the fire before it does more damage," he tweeted.

Up-country resident Farhaan Behardien hoped troubles back home would not put out the fire in his or Steyn's approach. "They've got people looking after that back in Cape Town, their agents, their people that's close to them. Of course, it does affect you in some sort of way, but we have quite a strong support structure around us," Behardien said.

Steyn has yet to hit top gear at the tournament, having taken just a wicket a game so far. He has battled sinusitis and Shikhar Dhawan, before finding some of the inner mongrel against West Indies.

But Steyn is a big-match player and South Africa are banking on him to step up later in the tournament. "I faced him a few times in the domestic scene, and it's not fun facing Dale Steyn when he's at full tilt," Behardien said. "We all know what a wonderful performer he's been over the years; 10 years as an international cricketer; No. 1 Test bowler. He's performed admirably in the one-day circuit, T20s. His fire and his energy that he brings to the bowling unit are awesome."

For someone who had a decade of experience behind him it may seem strange that Steyn is only about to clock up a century of ODIs, but that is because of how his career has been managed. He made his 50-over debut seven months after his first Test appearance and only featured in four matches in the two years (2005 & 2006) before becoming a regular. He has also been rested on occasions when South Africa thought they could cope without him and keep him fresh for key games.

Steyn's role has changed from opening the bowling to coming in at first change and controlling at the death and he has adapted to those situations by showing different skill - be it swing, speed or reverse-swing. Behardien expects more of the same on a Canberra pitch where Chris Gayle notched up the competition's highest score - 215 - especially if South Africa are bowling at night.

"We are looking to him to start the innings off well, whether it be first-change or opening the bowling," Behardien said. "I think at night the ball tends to skid on a little bit more, which would bring our fast bowlers into contention."

Although South Africa need Steyn to give them that little something extra to win matches, they also hope to give him something back to celebrate a career which will enjoy a champagne moment, no matter what, in Canberra. "A hundred caps is a wonderful achievement, something I aspire to, something most cricketers aspire to. We'll try and celebrate his 100th game with a win, and yeah, we'll be fighting tooth and nail come tomorrow."

So will the people in Cape Town, hoping to douse the flames that swirling winds and high temperatures continue to spread around Steyn's beloved home town.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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