CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Dale Steyn, fresh from becoming South Africa’s leading test wicket-taker, is happy with his pace but wants more wickets to get his old confidence back.
The 35-year-old, long regarded as one of the most fearsome bowlers in the world, grabbed three victims on Thursday as South Africa dismissed Pakistan for 177 on the opening day of the second test at Newlands before moving on to 123-2 in reply.
Steyn relished his return to the iconic Cape Town ground after missing two of the last three New Year’s tests through an injury that threatened to curtail his career.
“I’m fine now,” he told reporters.
“I think a really good way to judge someone is their pace. I think my pace is up. I bowled in the high 140s (kmph) and I’m keeping it up, even after 15 overs in a day.
“That’s good — but I just need to get wickets. Once you get wickets, you get on to a roll, get some rhythm going and you get confident. I’m hoping to try and sneak into that space.”
A broken shoulder kept Steyn out for most of 2017 before a heel injury in his comeback test against India last year sidelined him for a further six months.
The injuries also threatened to deny him the opportunity to become South Africa’s most successful test bowler, but he passed Shaun Pollock’s 421-wicket haul in the first test in Pretoria last week, which South Africa won by six wickets.
“The body feels good although test match cricket is hard,” Steyn said. “The long spells take some getting used to again.”
But he showed little fatigue leading a four-man seam attack that had Pakistan in bother from almost the first ball on Thursday.
“When the captain wins the toss in test cricket and says ‘we’ll have a bowl’ we have to back (that decision) up and I thought the boys did it well,” Steyn said.
Editing by Ed Osmond