Cape Town: Dale Steyn, the world’s No. 1 Test bowler, says his teammate Morne Morkel will be the player to watch out for when South Africa play Australia in the series-deciding third Test, starting at Newlands, on Saturday.
Steyn tore through the Australian batting on Sunday to drive his side to a 231-run second Test win in Port Elizabeth that levelled the series at 1-1. But on a Newlands wicket that is likely to be quicker with greater bounce, he believes Morkel may well be the most effective of the South African pace attack. “I thought Morne bowled extremely well on a flat wicket in Port Elizabeth and did the business. It was a different Morne from what we have seen,” Steyn said on Thursday.
Steyn has been the spearhead of the South African attack during their rise to No. 1 spot in Test cricket. Often regarded as angry and aggressive, he says he is misunderstood. “It’s focused aggression, I have got to be in that state of mind to be able to produce fiery spells,” Steyn says. “If I was running in thinking of cuddly bears, I would be dishing out half volleys and hamburgers for guys to smash.
“I’ve got to get myself into a fight — not necessarily go down and abuse the batsmen on the other end. But I’ve got to get my body ready for a fight. I need to feel that I am ready for a fight.”
Speaking further he said: “When I am really bowling well and at a good pace, I have these expressions on my face and my veins are popping out — that’s when I am performing at my best. It’s a bit embarrassing when I watch it on the news afterwards… But then, it helps my country get the results and that is the most important thing.”
With Steyn in such red-hot form, one can expect more fiery spells from him at Newlands. Australia will definitely be looking at ways to counter him. However, one has to discount Australia at one’s own risk. Australia will be coming hard at South Africa with Mitchell Johnson spearheading their attack.
In fact, the performances of the two pacers have been the highlight of the series so far and the Mitchell Johnson-Dale Steyn contest is still wide open.
At Centurion, it was all Johnson, finishing with a match-haul of 12 wickets. And an off-colour Steyn could only look on with self-confessed envy. “I wasn’t feeling very well but I got through that game and thought I did okay. I got the wickets that I wanted but I was nowhere near as effective as Mitchell was,” Steyn admitted. “The guy just tore us up. He showed that when a bowler is in a purple patch he can really be devastating. It really inspired me.
“It’s great to watch fast bowling like that, but it’s difficult. I want to do that myself. I want to lead the attack and I want to bowl at 150kmph but you just can’t do it sometimes. Sometimes, you push your body and you can’t, and often when you push too hard you bowl a lot slower than you want to bowl.”
With the dress rehearsals over and both sides equally well acquainted with each other’s strengths, it is set for an almighty showdown from Saturday. Steyn expects the finale to live up to the hype. “It’s crazy. There are a lot of things to take into consideration. We’ve got a World Twenty20 around the corner, we’ve got tours coming up, there’s IPL, there’s this, there’s that and here in the middle of it, we’ve played two Tests and we are 1-1 and we are here to fight it all out,” he said.
Meanwhile, Australia opener David Warner has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee after pleading guilty to a charge of making inappropriate comments about South Africa player AB de Villiers.
Warner was found to have breached Article 2.1.7 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to public criticism of, or inappropriate comment in relation to an incident occurring in an international match or any player, player support personnel, match official or team participating in any international match. Warner on Thursday admitted the offence.