World T20 2014 March 26, 2014

Wine, pizza keep Steyn pumped up


Dale Steyn is as light-hearted off the field as he is intense with ball in hand. For a man whose furrowed brow at the top of his mark can make batsmen involuntarily feel for the ball outside off, he is endearingly goofy in person, laughing at himself, deflecting praise and letting his thoughts tumble out. He even uses the word "rad".

Steyn is also the leading bowler among the teams to have entered the World T20 at the Super 10 stage, with six wickets from two games. Asked about his feat on Monday, when he won the match with seven runs needed off the final over against New Zealand - the lowest number defended in T20s and only the third time it had been done- he said: "I didn't think I could win it but we did, so bonus!"

Contrast that with the fire in Steyn's eyes as he collected the final delivery of the match, broke the wicket at the non-striker's end and propelled his wiry frame on a giddy victory dance looking like the world's angriest policeman.

It is perhaps no wonder that such a fidgety, high-energy player does not like being confined to a hotel for long periods. Players are generally not allowed out for security reasons - though on Wednesday he tweeted a video of himself and Paddy Upton skateboarding along a closed road and waving at grinning locals. You can imagine Steyn donning a disguise to sneak past the guards and post pictures of his adventure on Instagram, if he had to.

But while Steyn is an outdoors type whose fitness levels can encompass takeaway pizza or the odd McFlurry, he revealed that some of the players have a slightly more refined way of passing the time in Bangladesh.

"It's been so difficult. We have a wine club, we meet every now and then and have one or two glasses of vino," he said, without divulging who was most likely to become a sommelier as a second career. "We've got a movie club, we have a big team room at the hotel, so we get in there, whether playing poker or watching movies or things like that. We're not really allowed to leave the hotel much. There's a Pizza Hut across the road. I've never eaten so much pizza in my life."

He also chuckled at the suggestion he is now the team's "Special One", after Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, having prevented South Africa from suffering a second group defeat. That title should naturally go to the coach, Russell Domingo, he said.

Still, the importance of that win was not lost on Steyn, speaking ahead of South Africa's third Group 1 match, against Netherlands. He chose to emphasise the contribution of others, in particular his bowling partner Morne Morkel, who conceded 14 off the penultimate over but managed two dots from his last three balls. In T20, those are the margins between getting your aeroplane tickets home and the chance to taste another Shiraz or two before the trip is over.

"The mood in the camp could have been completely different if we'd lost that game," he said, "I think it would have been tickets for us. In this tournament it is kind of tickets if you don't win all your games. It's difficult, the little one percenters. If you go back to the game, Morne went for a lot of runs, which is an odd thing but it happens. People might criticise him but, his last three balls, he bowled three death yorkers and the last one went for four. If he had gone for two and one in those previous balls it would have been down to three or four off the last over and that would have been almost impossible.

"The little one percenters really count in this game. Just those little things, he might have walked away from the game feeling hard done by from not getting what he wanted but he finished off exactly how he was supposed to and ultimately we won the game."

Steyn suggested South Africa are in a "win-everything" situation, although it is still possible for a team to go through on four points. Sri Lanka have set the pace with two wins already and Steyn had some sympathy with the Netherlands, after they were gutted for 39 on Monday evening. "If you're not facing those type of guys all the time it can be quite difficult," he said, referring to the challenge of playing mystery spin or Lasith Malinga's sui generis yorkers. As Netherlands will find out, Steyn is also in a bracket all of his own.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vikas on March 29, 2014, 13:51 GMT

    @ Jagger . Mc Grath was a bowler of the 90s when pitches still had spice for the bowlers and batsmen still played Test matches in the orthodox mode. So Stey's avg of 23.01 has better value than McGrath's 21.64. The reason is because batsmen are scoring more runs in Test matches. Avg is calculated on the basis of each wicket taken for the number of runs. Now do you get it ?

  • Mike on March 28, 2014, 16:08 GMT

    @Jagger's comments:

    1) "The averages speak for themselves": So the benchmark of a great bowler, in your opinion is their average? It's that cut and dry huh? Strike rate doesn't matter then? In cricket, the bowler's main job is taking wickets. Wickets is what wins matches. So Steyn, who has a superior wicket taking ability is bested by McGRath who has a better bowling average? McGrath played 52 more tests than Steyn, yet Steyn has more 10 wicket hauls and is closing in on McGrath's 4W and 5W hauls. But by your benchmark, that doesn't mean anything right?

    2) "That was when decks were prepared for batsmen, not even contests like they are now." How many times "back then" did batsmen cross the 200 run mark in ODI's? Why is it that we are seeing teams such as Bangladesh passing the 300 run mark in ODIs? So T20 and ODI rules don't benefit batsmen nowadays with free hits, field restrictions and powerplays?

  • Soy on March 28, 2014, 4:10 GMT

    @Poster (March 27, 2014, 6:20 GMT) - sorry mate I can't read your name as work apparently blocks the facebook names.

    Haha - I was wondering if anyone would pick up on my not so subtle jab. I ran out of chars else I'd have been more realistic with DRS.

    What I mean is that it guarantees a higher % of decisions are right. The 'near flawless' part was hyperbole to make my point (that cultural differences are just that, differences, not right or wrong), well picked up on though.

    For those that are frustrated or upset by Australia's sledging, trust in the fact we are equally frustrated and upset (and baffled/confused) by India's rejection of DRS.

    Back to Steyn though - yes, he's simply marvellous. I had a multi on Eng and Saf to win last night and was HORRIFIED to see NED 4/116 off 12.4. Steyn (and Tahir, obviously) pulled it all back though, ice-cold!

  • A on March 27, 2014, 13:16 GMT

    @jagger McGrath's strike rate suggests that he is 20% down on Steyn

    Steyn, Marshall, Younis etc. are true game changers. Even Warne + Murali look quite tepid as they bowled extraordinary numbers of overs to get those averages.

  • Varnendra on March 27, 2014, 11:29 GMT

    @Jagger, To be an entertaining bowler you have to bowl fast too. McGrath doesn't.

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2014, 11:06 GMT

    Possibly the greatest fast bowler to right handers in the history of the game,he has brought so much to fans world wide...a great guy to boot and always so modest...thats why i thought it ludicrous when a certain South Afirican correspondent,2 years agoon this website suggested that Steyn was jealous of Philander..The man is effusive in his praise of his fellow bowlers,stating that Vern is the most skilled guy with his abilities orpublicly placing Morkel ahead of him in the English home series a few years ago.

  • Richard on March 27, 2014, 10:57 GMT

    It just goes to show how good Glen McGrath was. The averages speak for themselves. IN Tests: 23.01 to McGrath's 21.64 and ODI's: 25.41 to McGrath's 22.02. That was when decks were prepared for batsmen, not even contests like they are now. Whatever Steyn is, McGrath was better by a distance.

  • Android on March 27, 2014, 10:20 GMT

    a true champion of d decade

  • Android on March 27, 2014, 9:26 GMT

    The winnig expression of Steyn was awawsme

  • Venkat on March 27, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    Steyn is one of the rarest cricketers,who strongly believes that aggression is permitted only during the game . He possesses such great skills that he is way ahead of any fast bowler who has played the game of cricket . He is a true champion without anyone near him . Any day , it is a pleasure watching Steyn with a cricket ball in his hand .

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