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Don't have to be too hard on ourselves - Dale Steyn

Senior pacer not worried after big defeat to Australia, but says South Africa must learn from their mistakes

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
A pensive Dale Steyn walks back to his mark, South Africa v Australia, 1st T20I, Johannesburg, February 21, 2020

A pensive Dale Steyn walks back to his mark  •  Getty Images

Dale Steyn wants South Africa to "adapt quicker" to keep pace with the T20 game and joked that they "can't get any worse" after their defeat to Australia in Johannesburg on Friday night.
South Africa were bowled out for their lowest T20 total and lost by their biggest margin in the format during the opening game of the three-match series, appearing to have undone much of the gains they made against England. Steyn, however, is not too worried about his team's performances yet.
"You are allowed to have a blow-out," Steyn said. "We played some good cricket against England. It was one of the better series that I've played against England, even though we lost. We batted superbly and we bowled in patches really well. We don't have to be too hard on ourselves.
"This team is going to be learning. I hope our growth will be upwards. Even though we are losing, the process that Mark (Boucher) and Quinny [Quinton de Kock] have put in place is the right one."
South Africa are yet to win a series this summer under new coach Mark Boucher, and though Quinton de Kock's white-ball captaincy started well with victories in the opening ODI and T20I against England, the team still lacks consistency. At the Wanderers, Steyn saw South Africa make many of the same mistakes they made against England, which he hopes they can rectify by the time they get to Port Elizabeth for Sunday's second fixture.
"We've got to start learning a little more from the mistakes we made against England. We carried it into Australia," he said. "In the first six overs, we were a little bit too wide. We've got to adapt a little bit faster."
Steyn, along with Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada, was responsible in the start Australia got off to, with 70 runs coming in the Powerplay and a slew of short, wide balls despite Boucher emphasising the need to pitch the ball up. Rabada, in particular, came under scrutiny for his off-colour return from a period of extended rest.
Rabada was suspended for the final Test against England in late January and was given time off the white-ball leg of the series, during which he travelled to Chicago for the NBA All Star game, but came back lacking rhythm and presence. Steyn, though, expects him to improve.
"It's lovely to have KG back with the ball. I know he went for a couple of runs but he hasn't been around so he is probably feeling ring rust," Steyn said. "And the younger bowlers like Lungi (Ngidi) and And (Phehlukwayo) look up to someone like him. Big time."
The same could be said of Steyn, who is the most experienced bowler in the side by some distance and has showed his own ability to innovate with clever use of slower balls. Steyn, who retired from Tests last year, admitted that being out of the international scene showed him how tough it is at the top level and, like his team-mates, he wants to get better.
"Although I have played my entire career at the highest level, if you haven't played for a while, you quickly come back and realise that it moves a lot faster than any other level. Playing in the MSL was great, I went to the Big Bash which was fantastic but this was two levels harder. I can hopefully rewind the clock a little bit and bring some of those golden years back."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent