Steyn is back

Daily News - - SPORT - CRICKET

DALE Steyn might have missed a lot of cricket time in the past cou­ple of years be­cause of in­juries but is as gung-ho about play­ing on for South Africa as he can be.

Back in the Test squad for the up­com­ing tour of Sri Lanka, the 34-year-old 86-Test veteran will not just look to have an in­jury-free run but also get the three wick­ets that will help him get to 422, mak­ing him the most pro­lific wicket-taker in Test cricket for South Africa.

Shaun Pol­lock holds the record with 421 wick­ets, picked up in 108 Tests.

“Play­ing in­ter­na­tional cricket at the high­est level is where every­body wants to play,” Steyn told ESPNcricinfo.

“I have been blessed to have played for many years whether that be for South Africa or in the IPL (Indian Pre­mier League).

“I want to achieve things in my ca­reer. A 100 Test matches would be amaz­ing and 500 wick­ets would be in­cred­i­ble.”

Un­like his peers AB de Vil­liers and Morné Morkel, who both wrapped up their in­ter­na­tional ca­reers re­cently de­spite be­ing 34 and 33 and in good form, Steyn is sure he wants to go on.

“At my age – I’m 35 (on June 27) – I want to play a lot of cricket. I think I can push it un­til I’m 38, maybe even 39, and start drift­ing this way around that age,” said Steyn, who is cur­rently play­ing for Hamp­shire in the English do­mes­tic cir­cuit.

“But how much cricket can you play for your coun­try is the most im­por­tant ques­tion. If I’m go­ing to be spend­ing the ma­jor­ity of the time on the side­lines, then you might have to weigh up that op­tion.

“But I think it’s a dis­cus­sion that Ot­tis Gib­son (the South Africa coach) and I might have to have, es­pe­cially with a World Cup com­ing up.”

Steyn said the in­di­ca­tions from Gib­son is that he will be part of the team’s plans in Sri Lanka, and if Steyn can stay the course, it will give him the op­por­tu­nity to achieve some per­sonal tar­gets.

“He’s as­sured me that a fit Dale Steyn is in the XI and I’m tak­ing his word on that. Hope­fully, I can get the nod and can go on to get past Polly’s record – that’s been in the back of my mind for two-and-a-half years now – and achieve some of the per­sonal goals I want to achieve, too,” said Steyn.

“It would be amaz­ing to play in the World Cup (2019). But you have to play white-ball cricket to be good at white-ball cricket.

“Hope­fully, I can get some white-ball games this year lead­ing into De­cem­ber and put my hand up for the spot in that World Cup team next year. So I’ll play as long as my name is up there to rep­re­sent South Africa.”

Steyn has just re­turned to the field for the first time since the first Test against In­dia in Cape Town in Jan­uary 2018.

That Test, where he bowled 17.3 overs be­fore hob­bling off with a heel in­jury, was his first game for South Africa since he frac­tured his shoul­der in the Perth Test against Aus­tralia in Novem­ber 2016.

“I should be good to go for Sri Lanka if se­lected. I just needed to play some cricket. I haven’t played for six months; the last time I played was the New Year’s Test match against In­dia. So I haven’t played a lot of cricket and there is a lot of ring rust at the minute.

“I just have to get through that,” said Steyn, one of four front­line pac­ers in the Test squad for Sri Lanka. Kag­iso Rabada, Ver­non Phi­lan­der and Lungi Ngidi are the oth­ers.

“It is win­ter back home in South Africa so I would be at a train­ing camp or at in­door nets. There’s noth­ing like game time.” – African News Agency (ANA)

PIC­TURE: BACKPAGEPIX

SPEED MER­CHANT: Proteas fast bowler Dale Steyn dur­ing Proteas train­ing.

THURS­DAY

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