Peter Miller discovers the South African paceman has not lost his focus on playing for his country
Dale Steyn’s flying visit to play county cricket is over. He has played his last match for Glamorgan and is now jetting to the West Indies to play for the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League. This brief layover in Wales comes after he spent the best part of two months with Gujarat Lions at the Indian Premier League. Such is the life of the modern cricketer, and something Steyn says he is now used to.
“It has gotten easier to get going straight away. We play so often against international teams and all of sudden you are in a team with these guys. The cricket world right now is very small and a lot closer than it was many years ago. You are sharing dressing rooms with players that you idolised and you watched on TV. Over the last nine years of playing IPL I have got used to it now. So it is easy for me to walk into a team.
“It takes a couple of days to get to know some of the unknown faces and work out how the structure of the side works, be it training or travel. Some teams are relaxed some teams are a little bit more intense. You just get on with it.”
Asked if this nomadic life as a T20 gun was his future Steyn admitted that as players start to reach their twilight years in a sporting sense they do look to cash in on such deals. Not that Steyn is giving up on his international career just yet.
“At the end of everyone’s careers, let’s be honest, that is kind of what happens. They start looking for, I wouldn’t say the easy option, but the options where they can make some money.
“This is my passion, I love playing cricket, but this is my job and I have got to make money. That’s why I play this game or I would be working in an office somewhere and hating it, but I love what I do.
“I love playing cricket but you do tend to chase it around in the back end, but right now for me I feel I have still got a lot of international cricket left in me. So this could be something that is a little bit of taste of the future.”
The issue of rest to prolong his career has been debated a lot in recent times. Steyn was left out by South Africa for the recent Caribbean Tri-Series. But he is desperate to play, in fact he says one of the reasons he came to Glamorgan was because he wanted to play some cricket, having spent the IPL warming the bench.
“I want to play until I can’t play anymore. That is why I love playing this game, I don’t want to be rested, I don’t want to be sitting on the side. Let’s be honest, in 10 years’ time I will be sitting on a couch watching other guys play. And that is not long from now, I want to be playing as much as I can right now.
“There was a time when I felt maybe I needed to relax or I needed a rest but right now I know the value of what I have got left. I want to play as many games as I can for South Africa because that is at the highest level, but on the other hand I just want to play cricket.
“So if that means I have to come to Glamorgan, or go to the Caribbean or I have to play for my domestic team back home and earn peanuts it doesn’t matter, I just want to play cricket.”
The next big assignment for Steyn in a South African shirt will be the tour to Australia this winter, and it caused some controversy when the home team wanted to play a day/night Test and the South Africans were wary of being confronted with conditions that were completely alien.
Pink ball day/night first-class cricket has never been played in South Africa.
He said: “The idea of playing a pink ball game at night sounds exciting to me. I didn’t want to go my whole career without playing in everything that the game has to offer.
“I like playing all forms, from street cricket, to T20 cricket, to Test matches, to day/night Test matches. I want to play it all.
“There were a couple of concerns heading into it. In international cricket there is more to it than just saying, ‘oh, a day/night Test, let’s go and play’. We could be 1-1 going into that last Test and playing in a day/night Test that we have never played in before. It has a lot to do with rankings, there is no world championship or trophy that comes with Test matches so being No.1 ranked team and maintaining that spot is very important.
“I think dropping down the order to No.6 in the rankings and playing a day/night Test match – unknown territory – is not exactly what you want to go into when you are trying to work your way back up.”
But Steyn sees it as a positive develoment. “That is what is going to bring people to the ground, so they say, and I still find Test matches are exciting anywhere.
“I wouldn’t say we are forced to play, but we are game and now we have a couple of warm-up games to go with it the boys will be comfortable if it is 1-1 going into that game.”
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday July 1 2016
Subscribe to the digital edition of The Cricket Paper here