Dale Steyn, Proteas' Black Caps destroyer

MARK GEENTY IN CAPE TOWN
Last updated 12:01 06/01/2013
Dale Steyn
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TORMENTOR: Dale Steyn in action during a nets session.

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Cackling maniacally, Dale Steyn fits the bill of the angry, slightly unhinged fast bowler. He relishes fear in the batsman's eyes and fixes his target.

Regularly in his 61-test career the quaking batsman has worn a black helmet. Steyn's played New Zealand in nine tests, and after skittling James Franklin at Newlands has 50 wickets at 18.48, five runs below his overall average.

"It's because I was getting grumpy," Steyn explained of his brutal afternoon spell on day three of the first test.

Charging around the wicket and in the mid-140kmh range, Steyn stepped it up and  produced a bouncer barrage. Irked by the pesky partnership between Dean Brownlie and BJ Watling, he roared in to finish this test after celebrating his 300th wicket two days previous.

"The wicket got flat and New Zealand batted nicely, they had great defence and left the ball well and we needed to create something. They didn't play the short ball very well and they weren't attacking," Steyn said.

He had Jeetan Patel dancing to square leg after clanging him on the helmet. Franklin copped consecutive body blows and only just whipped his head away from a third.

Both had their stumps knocked over, Steyn ended with 3-67 and maintained his rapid strike rate of five wickets per test. Job done, and a two-day holiday in Cape Town well earned for South Africa's pace spearhead.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's batsmen hit the nets for extra homework.

Styen didn't sledge the New Zealanders, he claims.

"At one stage I wanted to say something but I thought it wasn't worth it. I thought the ball was doing enough talking."

Steyn, 29, is accustomed to fawning media but seems awkward discussing his success. The kid from the small northern mining town of Phalaborwa, the gateway to Kruger National Park, emerged from nowhere and honed his trade bowling in Shaun Pollock's cast-off boots.

"Do you realise how good you are," a female reporter gushes.

Steyn looks bemused. "I think he's better," he replies, pointing to man of the match Philander sitting alongside.

The latter sits with a tight hamstring which has him in doubt for Friday's second test in Port Elizabeth. Steyn, tallish and wafer thin, somehow defies injury, test after test.

"I've been managed well and I'm fortunate that I've got a good action. I've been blessed with a smooth action. I pick and choose the times that I need to force speed and extended spells."

And he can't wait to charge in and finish the job against the Black Caps. Asked if the scars of their 45 all out will endure, he says: "I bloody well hope so".

"We've got the pace, Morne [Morkel] and even Vernon can crank it up and Jacques [Kallis], we've got the artillery so we may as well use it."

Steyn proudly joined the 300 wicket club in Cape Town, equal third-fastest to the milestone with Richard Hadlee and Malcolm Marshall in 61 tests.

He was proud of the delivery which got the wicket, a pinpoint outswinger which cartwheeled Doug Bracewell's off stump. All this after Philander took the first five wickets to fall on day one. "I thought, shit, I'd better get in the game here."

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"I've got another test match in PE and a lot of wickets to take and a few more years in these legs. It's a fantastic feeling and I look forward to a couple more. I'm stoked, it's a lot of wickets and I can go to bed happy tonight."

Pollock and current South Africa bowling coach Allan Donald are his two fast bowling heroes from the 300-club. He mentions Marshall and Dennis Lillee as two others names that stand out.

"They're all fantastic bowlers. Polly was one of my favourites, Allan was one of my favourites. All of those other guys ... it's a pity my parents don't know who those other people are because they're quite stoked and I'm the only one in their eyes."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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