Australia in South Africa 2013-14

Steyn 'looking good' for Tests - Donald

Firdose Moonda in Johannesburg

February 5, 2014

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn share a laugh after India are bowled out, South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day, December 29, 2013
File photo: South Africa expect Dale Steyn to be fit and firing for the Australia Test series © Getty Images
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Allan Donald, South Africa's bowling coach, has warned Australia to expect a fully-firing Dale Steyn from the first morning of the first Test of the upcoming series. Although Steyn has not bowled for five weeks, in which he was given extended rest to recover from a rib injury, Donald insisted Steyn would not require any additional time to get back into the swing things.

"We cant afford for him to ease into it. Graeme wants him to be full tilt right from the start," Donald said, after the second day's play in the tour match. Steyn bowled 8.5 overs to follow up from the three he delivered on Tuesday and came off a slightly longer run-up than the one he used on day one. Quinton de Kock, who faced Steyn early on, said initially "there was no pace there, he was just working on his areas" but Donald noted Steyn got quicker as the day went on.

Steyn got rid of the Composite XI's tail to finish with three wickets and show heartening signs that his self-belief is ballooning. "The biggest thing when you are coming back from a rib injury is confidence," Donald said. "You do feel hesitant at first. You need to get back that confidence in getting through your action. But for a guy who hasn't bowled a ball in a month, Dale is looking good."

Although Donald called Steyn a "freakish sort of guy" who can "slot straight back in" after a layoff, he also said Steyn, like any other bowler, needs to work his way back by slowly increasing his load. "Every day he needs to build," he said.

The comeback should be declared complete on Thursday. Donald said Steyn will have one more spell and promised it will be a nasty one. "He will be bowling quicker, running in harder off a nice long run up with full momentum," he said. "That will give him that confidence and form that you take into a massive series."

South Africa need Steyn at his best because he will be the spearhead in what has been dubbed a battle of the bowlers, which Donald expects to be as explosive as it sounds. "Michael Clarke has every right to say he rates his attack No.1 because what a hell of a performance over five Tests," he said, referring to Australia's Ashes triumph.

"They're a good attack, they showed that against England. They have got variation in their attack and so have we. That's where it will be fantastic viewing from the side to see how these guys match up against each other."

Steyn's direct competitor, especially where pace and the label leader of the attack lies, is Mitchell Johnson, who will enjoy the knowledge that four of South Africa's Test batsmen, including Alviro Petersen and Graeme Smith twice, were dismissed by left-armers in the ongoing warm-up match. Donald called Johnson's recent form the "best I have seen him bowl in a very long time".

Donald was particularly impressed with the combination Johnson's speed and control. "He never gave England a sniff, he was so tight with the channels he bowled and his pace through the air," Donald said. "He softened them up with very good short balls and his follow-up balls were the ones that were very quick through the air. His overall control was the best I've seen for a while."

That type of discipline is something Donald was hoping from Wayne Parnell and he believes there was a glimpse of it in South Africa's second innings. "He showed a lot of intent. There was presence in his run up, which is important," Donald said. "I thought that stood out today, he had good pace and good control." Parnell appears the frontrunner to slot into South Africa's Test XI, which would add another speedster into what is already a cauldron of quicks.

With so much fire and brimstone in the lead-up to the series, it is easy to get carried away but Donald said South Africa are aiming for the same kind of calm they achieved when they prepared to take the Test mace off England in 2012. "There is no point jumping in with both feet down people's throats," he said, the mixed metaphor only emphasising the point. "This team doesn't stand for that. We built up very calmly towards England. And it feels exactly the same. It feel eerily the same."

Then, South Africa took a trip to Switzerland in the lead-up to the tour where they spent time with explorer Mike Horn. This time, they will spend two days in Hoedspruit, a town close to the Kruger National Park, where they will assist Mark Boucher in his mission to save the rhino. The getaway is aimed to give them perspective and when they return to fine-tune for the Test, Donald expects them, and the attack specifically, to be more than ready.

"This South African attack - from where we started our journey against England almost two years ago, to where we are now - we've got what it takes to deliver. We know what we stand for, we know what to expect from each other and whenever there has been big questions asked of us in the past, someone, or the whole attack, has stepped up." Donald believes it will be more of the same again.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Posted by   on (February 8, 2014, 15:55 GMT)

firstly England batting was no existent and there bowling attack was truly poor in aus , with the only bowler looking half decent being Broad and maybe stokes for a couple of spells .

Also from reports on this website , sounds like the environment that flower and cook created in the english dressing room was not great and i think that played a major factor in how nervous and tense the players looked, which i think is evident in all the dropped catches at important stages .

Smith always like the big occasions and always steps up during the big test occasions. Playing aussies in this series with the chance to be the first SA team to beat them in a home series since the 70's and it will be the icing on the cake for smith and the legacy he and team are trying to leave .

it will also prove once and for all how good this SA team is . with faf having scored a decent ton in the lead up to this test will only balance the SA lineup even more added to that parnell variation . SA to win 2-0

Posted by Amol_Ind_SA on (February 8, 2014, 4:04 GMT)

syedharisshah: ("60 to 70 wickets left in him, that means 14 to 18 test matches,but not more than 100 wickets.") ??? I find your analysis totally pessimistic, made at a time when the bowler being commented about is CURRENTLY Ranked number one and has been so consistently and for longer stretches than anyone and whose wickets per match has been MORE than 5.0 even after playing about 70 (a big number) matches. I would rather enjoy watching Steyn play is magic TODAY than try to analysis his future in vain.

Posted by   on (February 7, 2014, 9:13 GMT)

SA vs Aus is always the best test match contest and I am hoping for 3 amazing games(and Aus to get bowled out for less than 47 again:)). IMO, yes Aus bowling attack is very good but SA is the best. And playing Aus is an enough reason for Steyn to be at his best. Where SA hold the edge is home conditions and definitely a better batting side. Amla and ABD are the key players here and If either of JP/Faf score atlst one ton, the series will be in the bag. 2-1 to SA.

Posted by   on (February 7, 2014, 2:52 GMT)

lets just hope the rain stays away on what could be a fantastic series, Cricket Australia has had a lot of international cricket of late but not much centre cricket over in SA at the moment, here's hoping for a full series and an aussie victory

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 12:50 GMT)

I do think Johnson and co will cause trouble, evidently SA struggled against a raw paksitani bowling line up who are not bad but nowhere as good as the aussie and SA attack who look more accomplished. It will be an even contest, on paper obviously SA have the advantage but this AUS side have revamped themselves.

Posted by AltafPatel on (February 6, 2014, 11:40 GMT)

Wish Duminy not in playing in tests until something goes desperate. Failure at critical situations cost them a lot in both, Tests and ODIs. 1-2 good innings not enough to be on top, consistency is the must. Amazed, Tahir not even deserved reserve place.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 11:21 GMT)

I remember watching a program of the ashes where Rob Key the former English batsman rated Mitchell Johnson as the most dangerous fast bowler in the world on current form. That was his bowling in the Ashes. We still have to figure out how he will bowl against better batsmen than the English and with the weight of expectations that will be on him . I feel the australian batting is weak and a lot will depend on Clarke , Warner , Rogers and Haddin . Watson must deliver some time and I expect Hughes to play if australlia lose the first test. One exceptional performance by one batsman can tilt the tide as it will be a close series with two top class bowling units. Steyn may need match fitness and may take some time to be at top speed and fitness. Great series in the offing. Ramanujam sridhar

Posted by Basil777 on (February 6, 2014, 8:53 GMT)

This is difference between SA and Aussies; the bowling attack. India struggled to score above 3 runs per over. I dont think the AUS batsman will be that patient.

I will not be surprised if the Aussies are skittled out for less then 150 per innings

Posted by BaasHerman on (February 6, 2014, 6:51 GMT)

@redneck and vice versa.. Lara made the aussies cry with his MASSIVE scores against them as well. And Steyn in tandem with Philander has also given the aussies a few nightmares..

I do agree with you that the aussies in the nineties and 2000's are probably the best team but THAT West Indies team of the 80's was incredible. And also don't forget the South African side of the late 60's early 70's. They both whipped the aussies a few times like the aussies whipped them later on.

Posted by bluefunk on (February 6, 2014, 3:15 GMT)

@Beertjie: Hm, point taken. And Mitch was indeed played with a fair bit of confidence by Stokes & co. towards the end of the summer in Oz... to a degree in the last couple of Tests, more so in the sole ODI he played at Perth where his figures were not too special. You may attribute that to increasing familiarity with his bowling or to a lack of match-practice - though imo his mojo really lies in his Movember 'tache, which he'd shaved off by the time the Perth ODI came around. As some of the others here have opined, I too am not sure what his chances against AB are. However, regarding Mitch vs. Smith, I think he does have an advantage considering he's broken Smith's hand twice.

I just wish both Pat Cummins and Marchant De Lange were around for this series. De Lange roughed up the visiting Aussies quite a bit in a practice match last time around if I remember right, and Cummins of course gave the usually unflappable Kallis, among others, a torrid time...

Posted by syedharisshah on (February 6, 2014, 3:15 GMT)

i think steyn has at least 60 to 70 wickets left in him, that means 14 to 18 test matches,but not more than 100 wickets.which he will play in 2 and a half years.so if he finishes his career with 415+ wickets i think he should be decleared better than sir lillie and sir marshal, but he needs to be managed very well, should not play one day matches other than very important one,like world cup, after 32 his pace will come down to 82-84mph, but he will take wickets due to his swing, i reckon him one of the bests of all time for his achivements so far

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 6, 2014, 0:29 GMT)

This article seems off the mark to me. Johnson is not the match up for Steyn. He's a left arm quick for starters, at ~150 kph. He's also not the leader of the Australian pace attack. Harris is clearly the bowler the article meant to talk about, similar average to Steyn, they're both right arm quicks, both have a great seam position, swing and seam the ball, and have excellent control of their line and length. They're also the 2 bowlers most likely to skittle the top order. If Harris can punch through Amla and AB then Johnson has a good chance of doing serious damage to the middle/lower order. I don't rate Johnson's chances against Amla and AB though, I think they're far more likely to get out to a Harris gem or an innocuous Siddle delivery that just does a little bit.

Posted by redneck on (February 5, 2014, 23:54 GMT)

@lara-better-than-bradman gee trolling much? your name says it all. seeing how you have claimed lara, steyn and murali as the best ever. us aussies will just have to settle on being the greatest test nation ever!!! after all its a team sport!!! and murali, lara and even steyn all have had some of their worst days on a cricket field against australia!!!

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 20:19 GMT)

I thing Parnell should be a good bet for 4th seamer!!!! He has pace & is a left arm variation

Posted by dalboy12 on (February 5, 2014, 20:18 GMT)

This injury is a worry though - Steyn will need to be firing, going all out right from the start. If he is a few percentage of a 100, going into the first test then SA will suffer for it. Surely having your top pace bowler a few days out from the first test of the biggest series of the summer, still not bowling of his full run is somewhat of a concern. From the article it sounds like he will only do one full run-up spell before the test in which he will be expected to 20+ overs a day. Then again having that 4th Paceman (whoever it turns out to be) playing at #7 will help.

Posted by Beertjie on (February 5, 2014, 20:04 GMT)

Mouth-watering encounter. However, @bluefunk if you've followed White Lightning's comments over the years (rather than his work as player and bowling coach) you might have noticed how typically he over-exaggerates the quality of the opposition. Pay no heed to this - it's just his personality.

Posted by bluefunk on (February 5, 2014, 19:38 GMT)

When Allan Donald pays Johnson a compliment, it has to rank pretty high on a fast bowler's mental scale. 'White Lightning' was a serious quick in his day... just as good as Steyn and Johnson, if not better. Some of his spells from the nineties, especially the duels with Atherton, Tendulkar, and Lara in their prime still make for an absolutely riveting watch. Also, it's hard to remember anyone else who did as much for Zinc Oxide :)

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (February 5, 2014, 19:28 GMT)

@TommytuckerSaffa: I think Steyn will destroy the Aussies in this series. Steyn is pretty decent overall in any conditions whereas some of the Aussie quicks rely heavily on bounce to trouble batsmen. This is the key difference between Johnson and Steyn. It will be a thriller of a contest.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (February 5, 2014, 18:50 GMT)

SteynGun will prove why he has been top of the pile for years now - home and away.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (February 5, 2014, 18:46 GMT)

Steyn vs Johnson - a mouth watering prospect. This series will prove which is the best fast bowling attack on the planet. I hope all the pitches are GREEN for this series. xD

Posted by IndianEagle on (February 5, 2014, 18:08 GMT)

steyn will end his carrer as greatest test cricket fast bowler EVER like murali, greatest test cricket spin bowler EVER, i reckon.

Posted by ZkAneela on (February 5, 2014, 18:07 GMT)

Steyn will proved to be the difference between the two sides.

Posted by IndianEagle on (February 5, 2014, 18:04 GMT)

steyn will end his carrer as greatest test cricket bowler EVER, i reckon.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 18:01 GMT)

come on styen & co give johnson & co, a bite of their own medicine...love u steyn and speciallly mr awesome de Villiers .. fire with blazing all guns mate..aussies gonna surrrender just pick clarke only.. others are just strong on paper... mate de villiers waiting for u at ipl..make whitewash of kangaroos and be back to ur 2nd home india.. we are waiting mate... go proteas go...

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