Warner and Steyn: The best of fren­e­mies

Dy­namo slug­ger must pre­pare for a flurry of away-swingers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

ZAAHIER ADAMS ex­am­ines the po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive bat­tle be­tween “The Ka­boom Kid” David Warner and Dale “Crazy Eyes” Steyn visit in 2012. De­spite hav­ing yet to have the red ball hurled at him by Steyn, Ver­non Phi­lan­der and Morne Morkel, he let loose.

“I heard some­one said that they were talk­ing about get­ting into my ego or some­thing dur­ing the week. If they want to start talk­ing out there and give me a bit of ban­ter, then I’m all for it. I know what to ex­pect and I reckon I’ve got the game plan to counter-act that. ‘Ba­si­cally (I’ll) just do what I nor­mally do. See the ball and hit the ball,’’ he said. Al­though Warner,

blitzed 119 off 112 balls in the first in­nings of the sec­ond Test in Ade­laide, it was the only oc­ca­sion in six vis­its to the crease dur­ing that series that the pocket-dy­namo man­aged to get on top of the South African bowl­ing at­tack.

Af­ter nu­mer­ous brushes with Cricket Aus­tralia’s au­thor­i­ties, which in­cluded ban­ish­ment to Zim­babwe on an Aus­tralia A tour trip, Warner has fi­nally grown up.

Be­ing a fa­ther to lit­tle girls tends to have that ef­fect on a man. The suits have recog­nised this change and have be­stowed the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of vice-cap­tain on his broad shoul­ders.

As a re­sult, Warner chooses his com­ments far more cir­cum­spectly these days, es­pe­cially when it re­lates to Proteas hit­man Steyn.

“First time I faced him was in my Twenty20 de­but,” said Wa r n e r. “If I look back at that now and go, ‘ would I do what I did then at him?’, I wouldn’t be play­ing a lap, prob­a­bly wouldn’t walk at him.

“He’s a world- c l ass bowler, great ath­lete, al­ways charges i n and you just never want to up­set him . He’s a guy that can re­ally get on top, and we’ve seen it be­fore in the Test series (in 2014) when the ball was re­vers­ing in PE. He has this spark in him and this spell in him, and you’ve got to get through that. And you’ve got to re­ally work hard to try and negate what he throws at you.” The rev­er­ence with which Warner speaks about Steyn is par­tially at­trib­uted to them hav­ing shared a dress­ing-room at the Sun­ris­ers Hyderabad fran­chise in the IPL for the past few years. It has pro­vided a base for a friend­ship off the field, and a mu­tual re­spect on it. But it will not af­fect Steyn when he gets that shiny Kookaburra in his right hand next week at the Waca. He is ar­guably the prin­ci­ple mem­ber of an ex­clu­sive club of South African play­ers who have never lost a Test series in Aus­tralia, and he is not go­ing to want to start now on his third – and prob­a­bly his last – visit Down Un­der. Those “crazy eyes” will want to light up one last time, along with those bulging veins and he will not care if it’s his good mate Warner who stands in his way.

The Pha­l­aborwa Ex­press will no doubt rev up that diesel en­gine of his to un­leash a flurry of quick away-swingers that teases the out­side edge of the Aus­tralian’s bat.

Steyn, though, is go­ing to need the sup­port of wick­et­keeper Quin­ton de Kock and slip field­ers Hashim Amla, Dean El­gar as well as cap­tain Faf du Plessis in the gully.

In 2008 and 2012, the bucket hands of Graeme Smith and Jac­ques Kal­lis were present in the slip cor­don to field those flash­ing edges.

Kal­lis was gone by the time the 2014 home series came along, and with Smith present in body but not mind due to home dis­trac­tions, it al­lowed Warner to profit from missed chances be­hind the wicket.

He en­joyed one of the finest three-Test series ever by an Aus­tralian opener, scor­ing 543 runs at an av­er­age of 90.50, which in­cluded three cen­turies. It ul­ti­mately proved the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two teams as the Baggy Greens de­feated the then-World No Test 1 side on home soil.

The Proteas and Steyn can­not af­ford such lapses again.

T MI­NUS SIX DAYS: Dale Steyn will rev up his diesel en­gine one more time Down Un­der.

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