Sri Lanka’s pace trio provokes former South African former paceman Dale Steyn – By Sunil Thenabadu (Sports editor – eLanka)
South African had produced a number of quality pace bowlers in the past decades. Dale Steyn a former South African paceman retired from International cricket recently who had been one of the unkindest of them all who comes steaming in to fear all opening batsman is now an integral part of the commentary team. Dale Steyn was the number one ranked ICC bowler for extended periods had won the hearts of cricket fans all over the world for his belligerence whenever he bowls with sheer intent.
Dale Steyn commentates for all South African matches in the ongoing ICC T 20 WC been held in the UAE.Steyn had been nervous during the encounter between as for both Sri Lanka and South Africa two points were vital to remain for a spot in the semi finals.Until the last over was bowled the game was anyone’s as it swung from side to side until the penultimate ball when Kasigo Rabada edged the penultimate delivery of Lahiru Kumara to the vacant third man fence in the to seal the match and to be in the contest edging over Sri Lanka in the all important points table.
Dale Steyn added “I actually thought Sri Lanka had the game in the bag. Felt like South Africa got things wrong. I was going to do the post-match presentation and was actually preparing for a South African loss. They missed the opportunity to hit boundaries in the middle overs whereas Sri Lanka just kept coming at them.”
For this World Cup, Sri Lanka moved away from their conventional intensity of spin and developed up a bowling section on their pace. In the qualifiers, pace came in handy but when it came towards the tail of the competition, the pacemen, particularly Lahiru Kumara was the culprit bowling to David Miller’s arc instead of bowling wide off the off stump.
Steyn added “I like their belligerence. Sri Lanka is not a country known to have that hostility. Whenever I played against Sri Lanka, there were some good fast bowlers, don’t get me wrong, Malinga was amazing, but he wasn’t like the most aggressive man in the world. It’s nice to see a bit of mongrel inside those young Sri Lankan bowlers,” Steyn clarified. What’s mongrel? Well, Steyn was giving them a complement in South African terms; like a dog that has grown up on the streets who possess good combating attributes.
He further added “They are bowling 145 kmph which is quick and good. Where they went wrong was their lengths were off. Against Australia they were too full. Then in the backend they dragged their lengths back. Against South Africa it switched the other way. That’s experience for you. You have got to play at the highest level. Yes, they are playing at the highest level, but they need to do so more frequently.”
Adding further to the journalists “I like the way Kumara went about it. Chameera is rounder arm and he can swing it. Kumara is kind of hit the deck and he will be a good bowler in South Africa where you get something off the deck and find the edge when batters don’t know whether to go back or come forward. I felt bad for him. Just running into a guy like David Miller is not easy,” explained Steyn.
Steyn is not from any of the big South African cities. He is from the little-known Phalaborwa, a village near the Kruger National Park. The first time he was out of South Africa was when he toured Sri Lanka in 2004 with the ‘A’ team. But later toured with the national team in year 2006 but was pulverised by the duo Mahela Jayawardena 374 and Kumar Sangakkara 287 adding 624 runs for the third wicket the record still stands The writer watched this partnership when Dale Steyn was bowling flat out could remember when Mahela Jayawardena was clean bowled when eyeing the world record.
Dale Steyn further added “I just had the best time. I went to the mall in Colombo and for the first time I bought DVDs. That was bootleg DVDs, but I bought them anyway. I was eating different food for the first time. We went to the tea plantation at Dilmah. We had a car accident. Our bus crashed. Two police officers got badly injured. I sincerely hope they are okay. Then we had to jump into the Sri Lankan bus. So until the Sri Lankan bus arrived, we had to sit on the road for about five hours. We went to Kandy and I saw at the team hotel elephants cruising along. I absolutely loved it.”
“From a cricketing perspective, I can’t remember what really happened. It didn’t matter. It was one of the amazing tours. Every time I went to Sri Lanka, I sort of wanted more of it. The first time I went to Galle, it was great. I remember going up on the ramparts. Went to the little beaches and I loved it. We have won and lost games of cricket but Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful places I have been to. West Indies and Sri Lanka are two of my favourite places,” Steyn went onto say.
Two years after that tour, he came to the island again, this time with the South African Test team. Playing his first Test match overseas, Steyn had a tough welcome to Test cricket in Asia as this was the game Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were involved in a World Record 624 run stand.
“Thanks for reminding. In that Test, I had got Sanga out off a no ball and I had him dropped at point two balls earlier. Sanga went onto make almost 300. Mahela batted for two days and almost made 400. It was tough, but a great learning curve. You always want to win games and take five wicket hauls. But there is no learning in that. You need to have really bad stuff like that to learn. At that time I wasn’t enjoying it and looking back I think that was one of the best things that happened to my cricket at the start of my career. It’s a great story to tell and a great experience. As a young fast bowler I wanted to run and bowl as fast as I could. My mindset was similar to what Sri Lankan bowlers have right now. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.”
It needs to be reminded that Steyn shares a special relationship with former skipper Kumar Sangakkara. While they have played cricket against each other, they have been also teammates at Warwickshire while playing County Cricket, in IPL for Deccan Charges and Sunrisers Hyderabad and Jamaica in Caribbean Premier League.
“What’s there not to like about Sanga. He’s the best man in the world. When it comes to his cricket, he is just phenomenal. Even when he was whacking hundreds against us, it was great to watch and so beautiful. There was fierce competition no doubt against each other, but it’s been never ugly. That’s because Sanga is the nicest guy in the world, and I love him. I don’t want to treat him any other way. Playing against him, I want to get him out, but we are also friends. That’s the best thing about cricket.”
Has the master sledger have sledged Dale Steyn? “He is very clever. He is smart with his cricket brain. He will say little things. Maybe he would irritate me than sledge me. He’s got a point you know, and I just step back.”
There are quite a few fast bowlers in world cricket at the moment who are exciting to watch; Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada, Mark Wood, Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah. Does any of them remind him of Dale Steyn of his prime. “Probably Antrich Nortje. I think what he does; his thought process is similar to me. I don’t look at his action or his style and say he is like me. But I like what’s going on in his head. His execution is similar to what I do. We are roughly the same height trying to bowl really quickly. Looking to skid the ball, I mean beat you for pace before the bat gets there. Good bouncer and keeps it very simple bowling gun barrel straight. That’s the key thing. He doesn’t bowl many wide balls outside the off-stump. His action allows him to bowl gun barrel straight.
Having terrorized batsmen for a decade and half, Steyn has now joined the commentary panel and doing a good job. Will he remain there? “Have you watched Happy Gilmore movie? If you get the chance watch the movie Happy Gilmore. It is one of the best sports movies. It is a comedy. It is about a guy who plays ice hockey. He has got a bad temper and he ends up playing golf and he is really good at it. He is wining and everyone is asking him you are winning golf and what about your golfing career. He says I am a hockey player, and I am just playing golf to make enough money so that I can play hockey. I feel very much the same. I am a cricketer who is currently doing commentary. I am not a commentator. It’s fun. I am enjoying it.”
Photo Source : TelegraphIndia