In & Out: Steyn runs out of steam

2015-04-19 15:00

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Not too long ago, while I stopped at an intersection somewhere in Joburg, I was handed the type of flyer I thought had disappeared towards the end of the last decade. The reason I thought this probably had something to do with me having decided, circa 2009, to stop driving around Joburg with my windows down after a stray hand found its way into my car and tried to grab my cellphone off my crotch.

On this particular flyer, Dr Babu, an “Under World/Specialist/Healer” who brands himself first and foremost as a “Masters of all love problems” and, to a lesser extent, a “King of tokoloshe”, promises “more rounds” among his many other profound healing capabilities.

I’m not sure why, but Dr Babu’s offering got me thinking about cricket and how players are expected to go round after round, chasing summers as they traverse continents in a frenzy of professional cricket.

Take a player like Dale Steyn for example.

Besides heading up the Proteas’ bowling attack in all three formats, the last time I checked he was playing for three league franchises, each on a different continent: Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which is under way now; the Cape Cobras in South Africa’s various limited-overs competitions; and Brisbane Heat in Australia’s Big Bash League.

That’s a lot of cricket crammed into a calendar year and this might be the reason Steyn is not getting game time with the Sunrisers in this IPL.

Compounding this is the flak he’s getting for apparently not adapting his bowling adequately for the shorter formats, particularly the T20.

On Steyn’s omission from the Sunrisers’ attack in their successful opening game of the IPL on Monday, captain David Warner – another example of a player chasing the perpetual summer – was quoted in a Cricket.com.au article by Mumbai journalist Suneer Chowdhary as saying: “We just feel Trent [Boult] is ahead of Dale. We will definitely use Dale in the tournament?...?but at the moment, Trent is going fantastic so Dale just misses out.”

In the same article, Chowdhary suggests that while Steyn might be leagues ahead in test cricket, he’s pulling soft in the limited-overs formats, which are the money-spinners for professional cricketers.

“Relying on hitting a good length and trying to move the ball at pace, a method that has been so profitable for him in the red-ball game, has worked against him in the shorter formats,” wrote Chowdhary.

Now if that doesn’t set off alarm bells on the beginning of the end for Steyn as we know him, I’m not sure what does. So it’s up to the Steyn remover to do what all professional sportspeople must do at some point in their careers: reinvent himself to adapt to changes in the game.

It’s a tough ask given his hectic schedule, but perhaps somewhere in the limited-overs feeding frenzy the Phalaborwa Express might rise to the challenge of stopping his illustrious career from sliding into mediocrity – lest he find himself in a situation where he has to invoke the “healing powers” of Dr Babu, who, in spite of his promises, probably won’t do anything in the way of making Steyn “stronger to last longer”.

.?@Longbottom_69 is an armchair cricket critic. He’s not sure how there could possibly be a market for convertible cars in Joburg.

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