TELFORD VICE, Durban
IF a spanking new sports car roars past you at a scary speed in the next few days Dale Steyn will not be at the wheel, and not only because he will be busy playing for SA in the first test against New Zealand at Kingsmead from Friday.
“They always tell you to drive your Ferrari to a thousand kays before you hit 200, 200-plus,” Steyn told reporters in Durban.
“I didn’t put in a thousand kays. I just hit 200.”
In the first test against England at Kingsmead in December, Steyn added a shoulder injury to the groin problem – which had stopped him in tracks in the first test against India in Mohali in November – he had just overcome.
And all that as his 33rd birthday loomed in June.
“A lot of people probably pointed at me and said, ‘Ah, you’re on the wrong side of 30’.
“That’s pretty crap. Look at Misbah (ul Haq, Pakistan’s captain): he’s 42 and he’s playing.
“‘Quinnie’ (de Kock) can’t stop. He’s like, ‘Old man, old man …’ I just want to beat the …
“But it does help when you’re on the park playing for SA. That’s the only time you can kill those voices and those noises.”
Now, fit and firing having warmed up by playing for Glamorgan and the Jamaica Tallawahs in June and July, he has the chance to do so.
Not that South Africans should expect the rebooted Steyn to perform at his peak just yet, especially as he has not played a first-class match since that December test.
“Running in and bowling 145 km/h all day when you haven’t done it for a long time is going to be really tough,” he said.
“Objective No. 1 is to get through 18 overs a day as a bowler without dropping in pace but being as effective as possible.
“So 140 is good enough. There are going to be times in the day when I can rev it up to 145, maybe even 150. “It’s going to be hard but if you’ve got the heart you can do that.”
Heart, it seems, will be required by all who will bowl in what will be the first Kingsmead test played in August.
“I haven’t had a look at the pitch but if it plays like the nets it’s going to be flat,” Steyn said.
But he could take his mind off the grind by remembering that he is only 16 wickets away from succeeding Shaun Pollock as SA’s most prolific test wicket-taker.
Or would he?
“That stuff annoys me, man,” Steyn said. “I’m not interested in any records right now.
“It’ll be a record if I can get through a game without injury.”
Like their ace fast bowler SA will also focus on rebuilding having lost six of the eight tests they played last season and with a solitary victory to show from their their previous 10 tests.
That has sent the ranking into freefall from No. 1, in January, to the No. 7 spot they will reach on Wednesday.
Steyn was confident SA could scale the heights again. But not right now.
“It’s not going to happen tomorrow, we know that,” Steyn said. “It’s going to be a process over two to three years, of winning series and winning them convincingly.”
Years of driving Volvos, not Ferraris.