Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn (AFP Photo)

After two years of battling injuries, Dale Steyn is finally back to full fitness. Against Australia, in a recently concluded three-match ODI series, Steyn claimed seven wickets, the joint-highest for South Africa, at an average of 13.42.

After hurting his shoulder in Perth, when Steyn did return to action in early 2018, he picked up a freak heel injury during the first Test against India in Newlands.

But since his comeback, he looks in prime condition and in Australia, regularly clocked in the late 140 kphs. It seems he has left the wretched phase behind for good that once forced him to believe his professional cricket career was over for good.

“Not so long ago I didn’t think that I would be playing cricket again,” Steyn was quoted as saying by Sports24 on Thursday. “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.”

He continued, “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.”

Apart from working on attaining full physical fitness, Steyn also rewired his mindset to look at the positives. “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. 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,” he said.

While South Africa will play Australia in a one-off T20I on Saturday, Steyn has returned home to take part in the inaugural Mzansi Super League (MSL) where he will represent Tshwane Spartan.

With the ICC World Cup 2019 just months away, Steyn is back in contention to make the marquee event. However, he’s not thinking about that right now and is instead focused on his current role of a mentor in a squad brimming with young fast-bowling talents.

“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. I know that when I play well you will see that other guys start to play well too. You’ll see KG [Kagiso Rabada] 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,” he said.