It was Dale Steyn’s turn to face up to the media on Wednesday, two days ahead of the start of the crucial final test in Perth. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Looking forward to training today?
DS: I’m not going to train today.
Q: Are you happy that you’re not training?
DS: Yeh, so don’t go write something that I’m probably going to break down or something like that. But it’s a long game, five days. So my body needs a break. Tomorrow, when the sun comes out shining, I can come out and bowl.
Q: Are South Africa fresher than the Aussies?
DS: A little fresher than Peter Siddle, I reckon. He bowled hard, he worked his heart out. But the guys seem fine. No one seems to be struggling with any form of fatigue. Let’s just hope Jacques can get ready for this game. We’ll see how it goes for him.
Q: Do you have any update regarding Jacques?
DS: To be totally honest, no I don’t. He seems OK. He’s been joking around and being his normal self. But I haven’t seen him running or anything like that.
Q: Has it been frustrating for you not getting much shape (swing) on the ball here in Australia?
DS: I thought I shaped the ball ok sometimes. The wickets have been pretty flat. We got the ball to reverse swing.
The last game was quite tough. You tried to build up pressure, and if the run rate is pretty high it’s quite difficult to build up pressure from both sides.
I thought Morne bowled very well after day one. Day one we definitely toiled a lot harder. It was just a crazy day. But we got better after that throughout the test match.
But day one definitely set it up for the Australians and made it really difficult for us to come out and win it. I thought we got better throughout the day. Whether the ball was swinging or not, we did a lot better in the second innings. And also, the morning of day two when we picked up the last five wickets for not many runs. That’s pretty much how I know this attack can bowl. Hopefully if we can string it together properly in Perth, which I believe is just around the corner for us, we could go home 1-0. Wouldn’t that be fantastic.
Q: Is it difficult for you to manage your workload, not bowl too much so you can manage your ‘niggles’?
DS: I’m OK. I struggled with the second game. I had a little bit of a stomach issue, and then I woke up one morning and my neck was a bit stiff, too. So preparation for me wasn’t great going into the second game. But I thought I bowled a lot better than I did in the first one.
It’s been a long year for us. We’ve played a lot of test matches away from home this year, and I think the management have handled us well. There’s games I haven’t played – Twenty20s and the odd one-day game here or there – so they’ve managed the bowling group well.
But you can’t tell when you’re going to get injured. I could walk out of this press conference right now and kick my toe.
So I can’t tell what’s going to happen in the future.
But right now our guys are pretty fit. They’re pretty strong and we’re ready to go.
It’s just mentally, can you get yourself up for playing day in, day out under the highest pressure away from home. It’s a difficult task. But the guys seem to handle it very well. We haven’t lost a test match this year and hopefully we can look after that record and keep it intact for this last game.
Q: How’s Faf after his amazing debut?
DS: He’s OK. I think he’s on top of the world in all honesty.
He seems to be tweeting and instagraming pictures of himself, so he looks to be quite normal.
But I’m so happy he batted so well, especially on debut.
He’s been around the side for a while. So he was quite comfortable walking into this environment. It wasn’t like it was anything new for him. He’s put some overs under the belt in the field too, when we’ve been a man short. In Brisbane, and I think he fielded somewhere else for us for a couple of days. He’s no stranger being in the whites and spending a lot of time in the field, so it just kind of went into his batting. I’m very happy for him.
Q: Have you ever bowled to the point of exhaustion, like Peter Siddle did on that last day in Adelaide? How do you recover?
DS: He did well for them. He got me out with a full toss and got Rory with a good yorker.
He was rewarded in a way. But at the end of the day, we just edged him out.
For him to recover, I don’t know what he’s going to have to do.
Talking to our physio, I was saying to him what a mammoth spell and what he put in is going to be quite tough. He reckons every time he runs a marathon, and runs another marathon a couple of days later, he can still feel the effects of the previous one. A half marathon I should say.
So I think if you can compare it, it’s pretty similar to what Siddle has put himself through. But we’d want him to play, because you want to play against the best attack. He’s right up there with the best Aussie bowlers that they’ve got. It would be good if he can play.
Q: How do you stay so injury free?
DS: I’m just super talented….I’m joking. I don’t know, I’m pretty blessed, I’m lucky. I’ve got a good action, I haven’t really struggled with too many injuries apart from the footholes. I’ve been really lucky, touch wood it continues.
Q: How important is Jacques Kallis to the team?
DS: He’s massive. He’s been batting pretty well as everyone can see. A couple of 50s, a hundred. We know what he’s capable of doing with the bat but with the ball he’s just crucial for us. To have someone like Jacques, he can hold up an end, he can take wickets. He’s a massively valuable asset to this unit.
I don’t know what we’re going to do about him, whether he’s going to bowl or whether we can get him fit enough just to bat. But to lose someone like Jacques, an injury like this puts an emphasis on how great a cricketer he really is and what a massive contribution he makes to this team. If he just misses one game it’s massive, but the day he retires it’s going to be a whole different story.
Q: You’re the No 1 ranked bowler and have been for a long time. So when you don’t take five-wicket hauls all the time, people assume there’s something wrong. Is that frustrating for you?
DS: No. Someone has come up with a calculation that if people do this and that then they will end up on the top. And I end up doing what’s good for that calculation, and I end up being the No 1 bowler in the world. I think I’ve said it before: I don’t think I’m the best bowler in the world, I’m not the most skilful bowler in the world, there’s probably other bowlers that are more skilful than me. I’m just fortunate enough that I play every game for South Africa, and I’m able to take wickets when we need them. Hopefully I can take wickets in this next game. That’s what I’m employed to do, that’s what I love doing. I wouldn’t mind doing that. The main thing is it comes down to one last game and I think it’s going to be the team’s contribution to winning this series. It’s not going to be standing up and taking seven or five wickets or something like that. Morne took eight in the last game. It’s going to need a massive contribution from everyone.
Q: You would have liked to have a bigger impact in the series than you have so far, obviously?
DS: Absolutely! Who wouldn’t? Why would I want to come to Australia and be below average or on average? You always want to take five-fors and as a batter score hundreds and double hundreds under immense pressure playing against one of the best teams in one of the most difficult places in the world to tour.
I can remember the last time I came here I had a massive game in Melbourne but the other two test matches I don’t think I did too great. But it was a fantastic tour for me. I’ve gone two games where I haven’t gone too great and hopefully if I can have a fantastic game in this one I’ll be pretty happy. If we win this series, that’s my main thing.
Q: Why haven’t you had good games so far?
DS: (sarcastically, but humorously) Maybe I’m just not good enough.
Q: So you’ll rise to the occasion for this test?
DS: I hope so. This last game is going to take everything out of anyone to win it. I always pride myself on standing up and doing something when we really need it, and hopefully in this game something like that can happen. There’s a bit more want, a bit more need. It all boils down to the last five days, and that extra push. I’ll do everything I can in this game to try and get a result and get the wickets to win this test match.
Q: Would you be happy with a draw to secure the No 1 ranking?
DS: We didn’t come down to Australia to draw. I think we’ve played probably below what we’re capable of, but we sit in the situation that it’s still 0-0. Australia has thrown everything they can at us and they still haven’t beaten us. If we can play to what our potential is, I think we’re going to go home 1-0 and that would be fantastic.”