Dale Steyn has rich praise for four-wicket Duanne Olivier
Duanne Olivier could bowl a beach ball and find the edge of an opposing bat.
That would sound like hyperbole in the extreme if it didn’t come out of the mouth of South Africa’s leading Test wicket-taker Dale Steyn.
Olivier built on his man-of-the-match performance from the first Test and took 4/48 as Pakistan were reduced to 177 in their first innings on the first day of the second Test here on Thursday. South Africa had reached 123/2 in reply at stumps.
Steyn had rich praise for Olivier‚ as well as the rest of the attack which has helped make South Africa is difficult a proposition on home soil.
“It has everything‚” he said about the attack. “It has pace. 'KG' [Kagiso Rabada] has great pace‚ you have Vernon [Philander] who has incredible skill and he is relentless because he is going to stay there the whole day.
“I’ve played a fair amount of cricket and I bring a bit of calm and composure when things are getting out of hand.
“What more do you want? Vernon is averaging 21‚ KG is averaging 22 and 'Doozle' [Duanne Olivier] is averaging 16.You can argue who is better than that.”
There was a slight surprise at the start of the day when South Africa uncharacteristically opted to omit a spinner for a Newlands Test. Keshav Maharaj made way as Philander returned.
“The last couple of Test matches that we have played haven’t gone beyond 60 overs‚” reminded Steyn. “You are not utilising that part. I back it‚” he said about going with an all seam attack.
“I thought it was hard work with three seamers at SuperSport Park and 'Kesh' [Keshav Maharaj] did not have to bowl a lot with the seamers taking the bulk‚ if not all of the wickets.
“I think all seam is the way to go and with Pakistan having so many left-handers we’ve got pretty handy right arm offies in Theunis [de Bruyn] and Aiden [Markram] and Dean Elgar can also bowl a couple of overs.
“All in all‚ the talk of the tour will be our fast bowlers.”
Although he lapped up all the plaudits at Centurion when he became the country’s leading Test wicket-taker‚ Steyn’s role in the team is not quite as pivotal as it used to be. He acknowledged that in a roundabout way.
“It’s a tough one. I wanna be the guy the captain always turns to but I think when you have guys like KG and he’s just an absolute superstar and Duanne who is hot right now‚ if I was the captain I would give them the ball.
“I’m happy to play my part. If I’m taking twos and threes I can get into that patch where KG and Doozle are and I’ll take five. I just want to keep doing my job.
“Test cricket is hard. It doesn’t matter if you have played 100 Tests or just a few‚ it is hard work.”
The one batsman who saw the ball like ... a beach ball on the first day was Markram. That was before he was dismissed with what turned out to be the last ball of the day for 78 off 96 deliveries.
“It is a pity we lost Aiden but that was the ball of the day. It was a good one‚” said Steyn.
That innings helped put the hosts in a position of strength and Steyn hopes for once in this series the batsmen can assert themselves and dominate across three sessions.
“I’d love a boring day‚” said Steyn about the prospects for the second day. “I measured something like 37km in my first two days in Centurion. I’d love to sit with my feet up.”