Steyn opens up: I thought I would never bowl again

Dale Steyn (Gallo)
Dale Steyn (Gallo)

Cape Town - One of the most encouraging aspects of South Africa's short tour to Australia this month was the return to form of Dale Steyn

Having endured a horrendous period of nearly two years battling injury that started with a broken shoulder in Australia in November 2016, Steyn is now back to his destructive best and was clocking speeds of up and around 150 kph this month. 

Steyn finished the series as South Africa's joint-highest wicket taker, claiming 7 scalps at just 13.42 and 3.48 per over. 

All of that at 35-years-old. 

After over a year out from that horrific shoulder injury, Steyn was injured again in his first Test back against India at Newlands in 2017 with a freakish heel injury. 

Throughout all of that, there were times when he felt that it might be the end of the road. 

The signs in Australia, though, were promising and Steyn has launched himself straight into the World Cup mix where coach Ottis Gibson looks more and more likely to go in bowling-heavy. 

And, with the Proteas hosting Pakistan this summer, Steyn will also be backing himself to go past Shaun Pollock as South Africa's all-time leading wicket-taker in Test cricket. 

He needs just one more wicket to achieve that, and when he does it will cap off one of the greatest comebacks South African cricket has ever seen.

"Not so long ago I didn't think that I would be playing cricket again," Steyn said on Thursday at the launch of the Mzansi Super League in Cape Town.

"When I broke my shoulder I had this real drive to come back, but it took a long time. It took a solid six months before I could bowl again and I kept joking with my physio saying it was like U9 pace ... I could get my arm over but there was no momentum.

"I knew that once I started playing again it would be like riding a bike. I've done it for so long and I'm blessed with a very natural action and things come quite easy."

The difficulty, of course, was the rehabilitation off the field and the frustrations that came with not being able to do what he loves most. 

"A bit of mental strength needed to come into play watching the guys play and not being able to participate, but in the end I think it's worked out nicely," Steyn added.

"I took every day as a blessing.

"The thinking was that if I could play one more game it would be amazing and, as a matter of fact, I broke it down to even bowling one more ball, one more over and taking one more wicket."

If breaking the Test record isn't the best way for Steyn to end his career, then being a part of a World Cup-winning side certainly would be. 

With Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir and perhaps even Vernon Philander in contention, South Africa are on course to field one of the tournament's most dangerous bowling line-ups. 

"The World Cup is still a long way away. I think right now my biggest influence in that World Cup side is to come in and really push buttons where I can," Steyn said.

"I know that when I play well you will see that other guys start to play well too. You'll see KG is performing even better because there is good competition and rivalry within the side.

"That's my job right now. When that side gets selected, whenever it does, that's somebody else's job and we'll worry about that when it comes.

"Right now I just want to play the next game available to me, which is on Sunday."

Steyn will not play for the Cape Town Blitz in Friday's MSL opener against the Tshwane Spartans at Newlands, but he is likely to feature in Sunday's match against the Durban Heat at Kingsmead. 

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