South Africa’s most experienced player Faf du Plessis, preparing for the Pakistan series, is concerned that ‘bubble’ life for players is simply unsustainable.
My love for cricket began on June 29, 2008, in the first Test Match between South Africa and England at Lord’s, when a raw talent in the form of Dale Steyn tore apart Micheal Vaughan’s off-stump.
Right then and there the cricket worm infected me and I have not been able to find a cure.
It was also the day that the 24-year-old South African became a household name. He always wore the protea on his badge with pride and blessed South African cricket with immense success up until his retirement in 2019.
But where will South African cricket fans find our next? Dale Steyn?
Regarded by many as the best modern fast bowler, Steyn was the complete package. Not only could he terrorise batting line-ups with his pace, he had the ability to swing the ball in both directions, and when the short hand started to point towards 4 on Test match days, batsmen shivered.
It was then that the finest shots in his arsenal were on display, as he would reverse-swing the red Kookaburra and clean up teams.
The real spectacle came when he picked up a wicket, which was quite often considering his strike rate of 43.9 – still to date the best in the world. His celebration was a show on its own and anybody would have paid good money to experience his screams of jubilation as well as his clenching fists punching the air in happiness after he dismissed a batsman.
It was a universal language that he spoke: loving what you do.
But at the centre of this destructive persona was a deep love for the game and that was what made him so successful. Come money and come fame, Dale’s only passion was and still is the game of cricket. The childlike joy that he got out of the game was his driving force and was the only profit that ever mattered to him.
It was also what motivated him to keep on playing after countless injuries and failed World Cup attempts. The accolades he received were a small portion of what made the sport so gratifying.
And that is the missing piece of the puzzle for the Proteas. To find joy playing the game and to not think that winning trophies would fill the void.
When you are able to find delight in just playing the game, the fortunes will follow.
Mark Boucher and his troops must go back to their roots and ask themselves: why did I become a cricket player and why do I want to represent my country?
If they can answer that question, the Rainbow Nation can step closer to global success.
So where will we find our next Steyn? Not in the local nets nor on the cricket grounds, but inside of the current squad.
There is a Dale Steyn passion in each and every one of the players, they just need to find it.