Rejuvenated Steyn targets 500 wickets, 100 Tests

Dale Steyn strives to make an impact Getty Images

Dale Steyn bowled 102 overs last month, 29.3 more than in his last two years in Test cricket, in a bid to prove that he is ready for the rigours of the international game once again. Steyn last played for South Africa six months ago, in the New Year's Test against India, where he was returning from 13 months on the sidelines after shoulder surgery and injured his heel.

His career was thought to be hanging by a thread but he has been determined to keep going and is on the verge of yet another comeback in Sri Lanka next week. Steyn has been included in South Africa's Test squad, which only comprises four fast bowlers and so he is likely to start the Galle match, which begins on July 12. He is the only one of the quartet of quicks - Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi are the other three - with recent match time.

While Ngidi played in the IPL, Rabada - who was recovering from a stress fracture - and Philander, have not been involved in any competitive cricket since the Australia Test series ended in early April. Steyn, meanwhile, has played five games for Hampshire, three List A fixtures and two county championship matches, and has got better with each one.

Steyn conceded 80 runs in his first match, against Somerset, and only managed the wicket of former Titans' team-mate Roelof van der Merwe in his 10 overs, but that performance was the equivalent of a loosener. In his next outing, Steyn bowled 26 overs in the county fixture against Surrey, which Hampshire lost by an innings and 58 runs, so he didn't get the chance to bowl again. He was much more controlled in his second limited-overs' match and took 1 for 34 in seven overs against Yorkshire and then sent down 29 and 21 overs in a first-class match against Yorkshire, where he also finished with 5 for 66 in the first innings.

Among his victims was Cheteshwar Pujara, whom he dismissed with the red and the white ball. Steyn also played in the Royal London One-Day Cup final, where Hampshire successfully defended 330. He took 1 for 56 in nine overs and declared his time at the club a success.

And now, Steyn wants much more. "A hundred Test matches would be amazing and 500 wickets would be incredible," Steyn told ESPNcricinfo.

Steyn would need to play both Tests against Sri Lanka, the five in the home summer against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and at least one more season in 2019-2020 - when South Africa are due to tour India and host England - to get to 100 Tests. He needs 81 wickets to reach 500, but only three to break Shaun Pollock's record as South Africa's leading Test wicket-taker. Steyn has previously joked that he no longer wants to think about the landmark, because it has taken so long for him to get there, but as it becomes ever-closer, doubtless it will be on his mind.

So will his other aim - being part of a South African side that challenges for the World Cup. Steyn has set his sights on the tournament, but has not been named in South Africa's ODI squad to play in Sri Lanka, which leaves his white-ball future uncertain.

South Africa will play 21 matches between August and March, but will only look at fielding a side that resembles their World Cup XI in the last 10 matches, home series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. That means Steyn still has a chance to play in the World Cup, but, for now, will have to try and play as much shorter-format cricket domestically as possible.