South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Cape Town, 1st day November 9, 2011

We wanted to target Clarke - Steyn


Dale Steyn, the South Africa fast bowler, said his side had planned to target Australia's captain Michael Clarke in bowler-friendly conditions in Cape Town. Steyn bowled a particularly aggressive spell to Clarke after lunch in which he repeatedly bowled short deliveries that Clarke played and missed at. There were also a few words between the two.

"We want to really come hard at someone like Clarke," Steyn said. "He is a young skipper. That's the thing you do with any team if they've got a new leader in conditions that are pretty tough. When he came out there, we went at him hard. If you can cut the head off the leader, the rest of the body might fall apart."

This time, though, Clarke kept his head and went on to score a century. Clarke said Steyn was one of the fielders who shook his hand after he reached his century, evidence of the friendship the two teams share off the pitch.

The duel between Steyn and Clarke began after Clarke's predecessor, Ricky Ponting, departed shortly after lunch. At that stage, with Australia 40 for 3, South Africa's tails were up and Steyn said they wanted to justify Graeme Smith's decision to field first, especially when his opposite number came in. "When the opposition captain comes out and it's a tricky situation, you really want to show why you stuck the opposition in."

Smith's choice had already been vindicated when Steyn and new-ball partner Vernon Philander took a wicket each in the first six overs. Both Shane Watson and Phil Hughes were caught in the slips, after being beaten by swing and seam respectively, cutting short battles that were expected to last longer. Ponting was dismissed lbw by Steyn, after a review, and Steyn said it was an important dismissal because Ponting's demeanour at the crease looked ominous. "He looks a little bit different. Maybe it is giving up the captaincy. He looks like he's had a load taken off his shoulders." Smith decided to review the decision even though Steyn did not appear to appeal initially. "Things happen pretty quickly when you are trying to run in and bowl fast," Steyn said. "You look down and when you look up again the ball has hit the pads and you're not sure how close it is."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    LOVE U POP KEEP GOING..............

  • Aayush on November 10, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    Steyn is the man.!Hats off Steyn

  • Koduvayur on November 10, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    if the pitch stays bouncy then the aussies would also bowl well. apart from kallis the rest of the proteas would also have no answer to the lifting balls. anyway it is going to be a good test series by the look of the first day!!!

  • Tony on November 10, 2011, 5:27 GMT

    @windiesyouth.12, I think Steyn is being modest. The ball hits the pad before he gets to look down.

    As far as Clarke goes, top innings from a top player. I was initially surprised at the selection of Marsh as his 1st class average isnt that great, specially considering players like Katich. Hildich must have had an inspired moment there because the guy has bottom.

    For SA, I like the look of Boucher that seems to be as invigorated as possible. The level of commitment and the demeanor of the side is looking very good. I predict significant scores from Kallis, AB, Prince and Boucher taking SA past 400. There is just a focus abouth them that is ominous.

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2011, 5:15 GMT

    i saw him bat and 60 % of the runs he scored were on bad balls.. SA should have bowled well for longer period. they just gave runs on the platter in most occations.

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2011, 4:12 GMT

    Well done Captain Michael Clarke ,,, ,,, I got immense pleasure watching you bat ... ... Thank you

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2011, 0:40 GMT

    Maybe Clarke will never make another century as convincing as this one. Its almost like he has won a battle against SA. He was targeted! He did not just stand his grounds. He scored almost at a run a ball. While the rest of his team fell away, he stood to the test and on the day, proved the best. Nuff respect!!

  • MOHAMMAD on November 9, 2011, 23:50 GMT


  • Vinay on November 9, 2011, 22:23 GMT

    Clarke, like Hughes, is very susceptible to the fast rising short ball into his face (bowled from a height therefore) - even Ishant Sharma could topple him in Indian conditions. They need to let Morkel & Philander loose on him, not waste Steyn's energy. If Morkel or Philander even rough him up without getting him out, Steyn will take his wicket from the other end. Watson cant last as an opener in these conditions, he should be no 6 and Marsh & Khwaja opening so that Hughes can be sacked. If Khawaja fails, bring back Katich.

  • Deuel on November 9, 2011, 20:14 GMT

    "You look down and when you look up again the ball has hit the pads and you're not sure how close it is." WOW!!! is dat how fast Steyn was bowling

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