Dale Steyn expects South Africa to face stiff competition on their upcoming limited-overs series in Australia, even though the home team are without the services of David Warner and Steve Smith.
Warner and Smith were two of the top batsmen in the world when they were slapped with 12-month bans – and young Cameron Bancroft received a nine-month ban – for their roles in the ball-tampering incident during their tour to South Africa in March.
Their absence has left Australia looking a tad inexperienced in the batting department, and they have struggled in white-ball cricket since then. They were beaten 6-0 in England in June across five ODIs and one T20I. More recently, they were whitewashed in a T20I series by Pakistan in the UAE. But Steyn feels that Australia are going to pose a stiff challenge anyway.
“Those two [Smith and Warner] are always going to test you. You want to be playing against the best,” Steyn said.
“But I can guarantee you when you’re running in at Chris Lynn and he’s eyeing out deep mid-wicket, and Aaron Finch who’s been scoring runs lately especially for Surrey, it doesn’t matter. You’ve just got to take on who is at the other end, regardless of the name. When we walk out to the middle, it’s on.”
South Africa and Australia have shared quite a few intense moments on the field over the years, and Steyn doesn’t expect to change in the upcoming series, although both teams might be a bit off their peaks.
"The wildcard selections. The endless, cheek-chewing introspection. The random South African in the middle order. The wild exaltation of a draw. It felt almost… English."
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) November 2, 2018
“Both teams are highly competitive and do everything that they can to win. I don’t think that will change come Sunday,” said Steyn ahead of the first ODI, to be played at the new Perth Stadium.
“Both teams are coming off a little bit of a step back, Australia haven’t had the greatest tour in the UAE and they are trying to re-build themselves.
“We haven’t played much competitive cricket for a long time. We played against Zimbabwe recently, with respect to them, those were tough conditions and we had the better of them in the bowling department and that is why it showed that way. I think it will be evenly matched.”