PAKISTAN TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA, 2018-19
Cricbuzz Staff •
“I have got a lot of wickets in me than just one more. I haven’t saved myself to take one more wicket than Polly. There is a bigger goal at the end of the day” – Steyn © AFP
In July 2015, Dale Steyn, the South African spearhead, claimed his 400th Test scalp when he dismissed Tamim Iqbal of Bangladesh. At that time, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would surpass Shaun Pollock’s record (421 scalps) to become the country’s highest wicket-taker in Tests.
However, after reaching the coveted milestone, the veteran fast bowler was laid low by a spate of injuries and doubts were raised over his cricketing career. Steyn, who needs just one more wicket to break Pollock’s record, noted that he has “a bigger goal” than just achieving the landmark ahead of the first Test versus Pakistan in Centurion on Wednesday (December 26).
“I’m just looking forward to getting out there,” Steyn said. “I’ve been answering that question about that record for about two years now so we’ve passed that.
“I have got a lot of wickets in me than just one more. I haven’t saved myself to take one more wicket than Polly. There is a bigger goal at the end of the day. It’ll be a beautiful thing to happen for me if it does. These honours are great things to achieve and I’ll be highly honoured. But when I do, I’ll get back to the end of my mark and try and take another one. That’s the plan,” he added.
The fast bowler, who has taken his wickets at a remarkable strike rate of 42 in Tests, sustained a career-threatening shoulder injury versus Australia at the WACA in 2016. He suffered a fracture of the coracoid process, and had to wait for close to 14 months before he could represent South Africa again.
“Many people don’t know the seriousness of that injury. You can’t just pick yourself up and start going again. But it was wonderful to have that break. I got a lot closer with my family, something a lot of us struggle with because we’re on the road for so long. I was able to build great relationships with people who are close to me. And travel while I’m still young and come back really excited to play cricket at the highest level. I feel like I’m 23.”
With Vernon Philander (thumb injury) and Lungi Ngidi (knee injury) missing from action, Kagiso Rabada, the No.1 ranked Test match bowler, and Steyn will have to shoulder additional responsibility in Centurion.
“The onus will be on your bigger players like KG (Rabada) and myself to lead the attack. Duanne has been bowling beautifully, he was the highest wicket-taker in the Mzansi Super League. In the four-day game he played the other days he got a few wickets and even got Faf [du Plessis] out. If he slips under the radar and he comes up trumps with wickets and wins us the game I will not be complaining.”
Steyn, who has snared 24 Test scalps at an amazing average of 14.37 versus Pakistan at home, said that he was looking forward to bowl at the visiting side’s batsmen. He also pointed out that batsmen from the subcontinent tended to struggle on pace-friendly tracks of South Africa.
“Every time a subcontinent team comes down to South Africa, they look down at the wicket and they’re not familiar with these conditions. They look at the wicket and there’s a bit of grass and you feel they’re two down already. It’s definitely not Dubai. I’m the guy that’s going to do that. I’m the guy with the brand-new ball in my hand. So it’s advantage fast bowler at the end of the day.
“So I look forward to playing against Pakistan, and I’ve done well against them in the past. I’ve got fond memories of the Wanderers too, where I got 6 for 8. I go through that stuff in my mind to try and boost myself up. But you’ve got to wait till game day to see how this goes.
“It’s just nice to have a red ball in my hand again. Sri Lanka was tough conditions for the fast bowlers, but by the looks of things – the way the nets have been playing out in the middle- there is some spice. I am looking forward to getting out there and playing five competitive days of cricket.”