South Africa’s speedster Dale Steyn is gunning to make his much-awaited return to the cricket field in November. The star fast-bowler, who was set to play for the Cape Town Knight Riders in the now-postponed T20 Global League, is now expected to play in South Africa’s franchise T20 competition. The tournament is likely to be held in the period during which the T20 Global League was scheduled to be played.
The 34-year old has not played since injuring his shoulder during the Test series in Australia late last year. Steyn was expected to return to action during the series in England for South Africa A in May this year, but his spell on the sidelines was extended after he withdrew from the two four-day games series as his recovery from surgery took longer than the expected six-months timeline.
After spending a considerable time on the sidelines, Steyn started bowling again around three weeks ago and also spent a few days with the South African team when the players were preparing for the first Test against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom. According to ESPNcricinfo, he has continued practice since then and bowls a week thrice.
“It happens quite quickly. I go off three paces on the Monday, then Wednesday I go off five paces, but I bowl 26 balls. Then Friday, I bowl off five paces but I bowl 30 balls. At the moment, where I am at right now, I bowl Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and at about 70% or 80% of my full run-up, at about 60-70%,” Steyn told ESPNcricinfo.
Steyn further said that from next week onward, he would bowl four times a week in a bid to return to action the very next month.
“Next week, I will move it to bowling on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday off and bowling again Thursday and Friday. And we just up the percentage every week so eventually when we play the T20s, I will going full run-up, full-pace.”
“My arm is perfect, if anything its stronger than it was before because its reinforced with a pin. It’s 100% now. I’ve just got to start reminding myself how to bowl at high speeds because I haven’t done it for a year,” he jokingly added.
Another reason behind Steyn’s desperation to get back on the cricket field is to work with newly-appointed Proteas head coach Ottis Gibson who was a bowler, unlike the previous South Africa head coaches under whom Steyn played.
“It’s the first time in my career I have had a head coach who was a bowler. With all due respect to the previous coaches, they were all batters, they see the game differently to the way that bowlers see the game. When I sat in one or two meetings, I saw Ottis’ eyes light up when KG [Kagiso Rabada] was talking, I saw his eyes light up when Morne [Morkel] was talking,” he said.
“They didn’t light up so much when Hashim [Amla] was talking.It gets me excited because he is on the same wavelength as us. For the first time its also great to see that the head coach is out in the middle when the bowlers are bowling and not in the nets with the batters. The love is being shared a little and I think the bowlers will start to get taken a little bit more seriously when it comes to decision making. I do feel they have a lot of offer. It has been batter dominant for a long time, so I am quite excited about the head coach being an ex-bowler,” he added.