“I love playing cricket, right now I wake up every morning and I can’t see myself doing anything else”
Dale Steyn believes it was a “smart decision” to focus solely on white-ball cricket in the twilight of his international career.
Steyn hung up his Test whites last August after injury prevented the legendary fast bowler from playing any part in last year’s 50-overs World Cup.
The 36-year-old had also previously been plagued by shoulder and heel injuries that has hampered his participation for the Proteas in recent years.
“With Test cricket, the workload was too much as I want to extend my career for as long as I can,” Steyn said of the first T20I against England in East London today.
“In Test cricket you can bowl 20 overs in a day, that is five T20s, so it was a smart decision.
“I love playing cricket, right now I wake up every morning and I can’t see myself doing anything else.
“As long as the desire is still there to play at the highest level, to get batters out and out-smart them once I have decided I don’t want that I will walk away.”
The veteran certainly showed renewed vigour during last season’s Mzansi Super League where he was the standout bowler for the Cape Town Blitz.
It was not only his performances on the field that impressed, but also his role in the Blitz dressingroom where he guided young fast bowlers such as Anrich Nortjé and Sisanda Magala.
Steyn faces a similar scenario when he enters the Proteas dressingroom again with many of the bowlers having previously had the “Phalaborwa Express” poster on their bedroom walls. Magala will certainly be there with the Blitz and Warriors seamer expected to debut at Buffalo Park today.
“This is a young group of players and my role is to orchestrate the bowling attack a little bit,” Steyn said. “I want to stand at mid-off and say to the bowler, ‘what are you thinking?’ and hopefully they can learn and get better.
“You want to win every game, obviously, but right now it is more about learning. If we win the World Cup, nobody is going to care if we lost to England in February.”
For all the youngsters around Steyn, there will be a few familiar faces though.
The only difference now is that they won’t be going out on the field into battle with Steyn, but will rather be watching on the sidelines in management tracksuits with former captain Graeme Smith the new acting director of cricket, Mark Boucher head coach and Jacques Kallis the batting consultant. Fellow former Proteas Charl Langeveldt is the bowling consultant too, while Justin Ontong is the fielding coach.
Steyn believes having shared so many epic moments with them will facilitate the process to get the best out of him at this stage of his career.
“I have had really nice, good open conversations on what I want to do with Smith and Boucher,” he said.
“In my career I always been managed well, saved for big series, World Cups etc. It all boils down to management of the player”.
Full Proteas T20 squad
Quinton de Kock (capt & wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen.
Proteas T20 schedule:
1st T20I, Today (6pm): Buffalo Park, East London
2nd T20I, Friday (6pm): Kingsmead, Durban
3rd T20I, Sunday (2.30pm): SuperSport Park, Centurion