RETURN TO FORM
Dale Steyn is off his couch and on the pitch
A familiar voice bubbled‚ burbled and just plain boomed out of the wide open windows of the bustling players’ enclosure at an otherwise all but empty Newlands on Thursday.
The sound was of enthusiasm itself‚ and it skipped across the outfield like a stone across a pond and might have leapt over Table Mountain itself.
Whoever that man was‚ he was as happy as the sun was high in the afternoon sky.
That man was Dale Steyn.
"I kind of forgot what it was like to be with the guys‚" Steyn said as he stood in welcome shade after clattering down the stairs in his spikes‚ kitbag on his back‚ sunblock everywhere.
"Last night we had a Titans team thing. Everyone was at ‘Forries’ [Foresters Arms‚ an old-school Newlands pub] and then we had dinner and went out and had one or two drinks and enjoyed each other’s company.
"Which was different‚ because for a year I’ve been sitting around watching guys on TV. You still feel like you’re part of a team but I’m sitting on my couch sending messages saying ‘well done’ or ‘hard luck’.
"Now I’m here and we’re talking‚ sometimes about the guys’ personal lives‚ and you don’t get that when you’re on the couch in the evening watching cricket. And the next morning I go train by myself…"
Steyn is selling himself short. Far from "sitting on my couch" he has been battling his way back from the broken shoulder and ripped muscles he suffered while bowling against Australia at the WACA Ground in Perth last November.
Four T20s into his comeback‚ "I’m fine. I’ve just got to play — just more games‚ more games," he said.
"But you can only play one game at a time and T20 is the best I can do right now."
Steyn will pull on his whites in Paarl on December 20 for the first time since that awful day in Perth‚ when he will be part of a South African Invitation XI squad for a three-day match against Zimbabwe.
"Hopefully‚ if I get through there fine‚ I can’t see any reason why I can’t play the Test match — obviously selection permitting."
That’s the Boxing Day Test against Zimbabwe at St George’s Park‚ a four-day‚ day/night‚ pink-ball affair.
But Steyn‚ juicily human as he is‚ sounded a touch torn between setting participation in that match as his goal and helping the Titans‚ the dominant T20 franchise‚ shoot for the stars.
"Coming into this I thought I’d play a couple of games and prepare myself to play for the Proteas‚" he said. "But now I’m in it.
"There’s a semifinal coming up [next Wednesday or Thursday] and I want to play.
"Whether I can play is another story with the three-day game coming up. And then there could be a final [next Saturday].
"Bouch [Titans coach Mark Boucher] might be‚ like: ‘Where do you want to be?’
"But I’m genuinely in it to hopefully go through and win it."