SA's pacemen ready for New Zealand
DURBAN, South Africa:
As one of the straightest talkers in cricket, South Africa's Dale Steyn is not about to hide his likely demotion among the game's most fearsome fast bowlers.
Having been kept out of international cricket for much of the last year by groin and shoulder injuries, the 33-year-old will make a welcome return to the side in the first test against New Zealand in Durban today, but acknowledged he will have to turn down the speed dial.
"If I must be realistic about it, running in and bowling 145 kph all day when you haven't done it for a long time is going to be really tough," he said this week.
"Objective number one is to get through 18 overs a day, maybe dropping in pace, but being as effective as possible; 140 is going to be enough."
Steyn confessed that as he contends with the lingering effects of his injuries and an ageing body, he won't even be the fastest bowler in his team, let alone the world.
But he's OK with that.
"There's going to be a day when I can rev it up to 145 and maybe even 150, but we've got somebody like KG (Kagiso Rabada) who can do that now."
On paper, a two-match series against New Zealand looks like a soft start to South Africa's rebuilding process, given that it has lost just one of 13 home Tests to the Black Caps since readmission to world cricket in 1991 - even with captain AB de Villiers ruled out by a range of niggling injuries.
But New Zealand has built a formidable outfit over the past three years, rising to fifth in the rankings, and boast a threatening pace attack in their own right with Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner.
The trio warmed up for the South Africa tour by twice bowling New Zealand to innings victories over Zimbabwe on hopelessly flat pitches in Bulawayo.