Pace ace in the slow lane

Sunday Times


TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

DALE Steyn was dropped for SA’s one-day triseries in the West Indies and not rested as was claimed when the squad was announced, the Sunday Times understands. That could explain why he will play for Glamorgan while he is, officially, meant to be putting his feet up.

Steyn will turn out for the county in the first half of their domestic T20 campaign – which coincides with the triseries. Not that anyone could describe him as worn out.

“They used rest as an excuse,” an insider said. “He knows they dropped him.”

Injuries limited Steyn’s involvement in the eight tests SA played against India and England last season to 40 overs.

He bowled his quota in three of the four T20s he has since played for SA but was not selected in another two games in that format.

On top of that, Steyn bowled a dozen deliveries for Gujarat Lions in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), all in one game on April 21. He could have sent down as many as 60 overs.

Consequently for five weeks Steyn has been “extremely frustrated as he is just not being selected”, according to an IPL source.

And that despite “training hard before and after matches, so he is showing lots of interest”. The Lions seem to be “looking more at developing local bowlers”.

How they could decide not to pick Steyn on the basis of two overs which went for 17 runs and were bowled in a single match makes no sense, especially as they are paying him R5.3-million – at least, on this week’s exchange rate.

The fact that the finest fast bowler of the era was not been instrumental in his team reaching the play-off stages is one answer to that mystery. Another is that six of the 24 players on Gujarat’s roster came at a prettier penny than he did.

Just how valuable do the Lions deem Steyn? The same as comparative mediocrities like Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik, who each fetched the same asking price as the South African at this year’s auction.

Of Steyn’s 15 compatriots who are also on the books of IPL franchises this season, seven are more expensive. AB de Villiers’ price-tag of R21.9-million and the R6.5-million being paid to Morne Morkel and David Wiese bookend a list that includes, in descending order, Chris Morris, David Miller, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock.

JP Duminy, Hashim Amla – who was signed late as an injury replacement and played only six games – Kyle Abbott, Imran Tahir, Farhaan Behardien, Marchant de Lange, Albie Morkel and Tabraiz Shamsi were all acquired for less money than Steyn. Nationality aside, 19 players went for more than Steyn.

What’s the point of all this accounting? To try and measure Steyn’s value not through the prisms of patriotic emotion nor what he has accomplished in one of cricket’s epic careers, but in terms of what his most moneyed employers consider him to be worth to their team right now.

That will rankle South Africans: this is Dale Steyn we’re talking about, a champion of the age, the man with as much fire in his eyes as in his belly, and in his bowling arm.

“Great bowlers like that, when people start questioning them and writing them off, they produce the goods,” Russell Domingo said.

“We’ve got a lot of test cricket ahead. We’ve got five ODIs in SA against Australia (in September and October) which I am confident he will be part of. There are 11 test matches these next seven months.

“Dale is our No. 1 go-to guy in test cricket. He will lead this attack for a while still.”

Selection convenor Linda Zondi did not respond when he was asked what had been communicated to Steyn about his omission from the triseries squad – was he told he was being dropped or rested?

At least money still talks.

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