Steyn’s right – the game needs nee­dle

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS Cricket Writer

DALE STEYN gets it. No, not the loads of wick­ets he takes (he does that any­way), but the world we live in and par­tic­u­larly cricket’s part therein.

Steyn had lo­cal me­dia in Can­berra eat­ing out of his hands at a press con­fer­ence on Tues­day ahead of the third One-Day In­ter­na­tional, un­like in Perth last week when he didn’t speak as many had hoped he would.

South Africa’s ri­valry with Aus­tralia in the last six years in par­tic­u­lar has be­come heated. The end of the era of the great Aus­tralian team of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hay­den and Adam Gilchrist co­in­cided with the im­prove­ment of South Africa’s side in which Steyn, Hashim Amla and AB de Vil­liers fea­tured promi­nently.

The ri­valry reached a crescendo in that fi­nal ses­sion of the de­cid­ing Test in Cape Town this year, with Steyn and Michael Clarke get­ting in­volved in a heated ex­change.

Ever since Steyn said in Zim­babwe ear­lier this year that Clarke owed him a more sin­cere apol­ogy for what was said in Cape Town, this se­ries had its “sell­ing point”.

On Tues­day, Steyn gave a well rounded ex­pla­na­tion of what cricket needs in the mod­ern age, where there is so much to draw the at­ten­tion of the pub­lic.

Speak­ing about Cape Town he said: “When the game is on the line … we had 30 balls to bat to save the Test, they needed two wick­ets, it’s day five, it’s hot.

“It got heated and a lit­tle out of hand and things got said that shouldn’t have been said. One team won, one guy was ex­tremely happy and the other guy didn’t win and he wasn’t very happy about it.

“If that Test was a draw who knows what would have been said when we were shak­ing hands. Would there have been an apol­ogy? Would some­one have said some­thing? At the end of the day it doesn’t mat­ter man, that’s why we go watch Test cricket. It’s great fun, great to see and I don’t ex­pect any­thing less in this se­ries.”

Warm­ing to his theme, Steyn con­tin­ued: “It would be a dis­ap­point­ment if Mitch John­son didn’t abuse Faf (du Plessis), it would be dis­ap­point­ing if I didn’t abuse somebody, if (David) Warner didn’t have a go at some­one; why would any­one come and watch us play cricket, apart from our skills?

“It’s got to be en­ter­tain­ing and that’s why we play.”

He is so right. Cricket is not the most at­trac­tive sport in the world, and with bum­bling ad­min­is­tra­tors and con­tin­u­ing scep­ti­cism be­cause of fix­ing, the ex­tra “nee­dle” gar­nered from in­tense in­di­vid­ual ri­valry should be wel­comed.

Steyn gets that.

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