Dale Steyn has insisted he wants “to play Test cricket as long as I can” as he continues his latest push to return to the fold following a spate of injuries which have limited him to two Tests in nearly two years.
While South Africa have been hit by a raft of international retirements in recent months – most notably AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel – Steyn hopes to represent his country for several more years and claim 500 Test wickets.
But Steyn, who requires just two more Test wickets to equal Shaun Pollock’s South Africa record of 421, did hint that, were he to find himself unwanted by South Africa, he would pursue other options in the game.
“Playing international cricket at the highest level is where everybody wants to play,” Steyn told ESPNcricinfo. “I have been blessed to have played for many years whether that be for South Africa or in the IPL.
“I want to achieve certain things in my career. A hundred Test matches would be amazing and 500 wickets would be incredible.
“At my age – I’m 35 [he is actually not 35 until the end of this month] – I want to play a lot of cricket. I think I can push it until I’m 38, maybe even 39, and start drifting this way [to county cricket] around that age.
“But how much cricket can you play for your country is the most important question. If I’m going to be spending the majority of the time on the sidelines, then you might have to weigh-up that option. But I think it’s a discussion that Ottis Gibson [the South Africa coach] and I might have to have, especially with a World Cup coming up.
“He’s assured me that a fit Dale Steyn is in the XI and I’m taking his word on that. Hopefully I can get the nod and can go on to get past Polly’s record – that’s been in the back of my mind for two-and-a-half years now – and achieve some of the personal goals I want to achieve, too.
“It would be amazing to play in the World Cup. But you have to play white-ball cricket to be good at white-ball cricket. Hopefully I can get some white-ball games this year leading into December and put my hand up for the spot in that World Cup team next year.
“So I’ll play as long as my name is up there to represent South Africa.”
Steyn, who is currently playing county cricket for Hampshire in a bid to prove his form and fitness ahead of selection for South Africa’s tour of Sri Lanka next month, has currently played 86 Tests and claimed 419 Test wickets. He has played his first first-class cricket since January over the last few days and, while he is not quite at his best just yet, declared himself satisfied with the progress he was making.
“The body is feeling good,” he said. “I got through 26 overs in the first innings which was pretty good but more than I thought I would have to bowl. The body feels fine and if we had to bowl again this evening I would have been good to go again.
“You obviously want more wickets but I don’t want to judge myself right now. Coming back from injury I want to make sure I can play without picking up another injury which is more important to me. I felt it was okay.
“I should be good to go for Sri Lanka if selected. I just needed to play some cricket. I haven’t played for six months, the last time I played was the New Year’s Test match against India. So I haven’t played a lot of cricket and there is a lot of ring rust at the minute. I just have to get through that. It is winter back home in South Africa so I would be at a training camp or at indoor nets. There’s nothing like game time.”
Steyn also confirmed that, fitness permitting, he would return to Hampshire for another spell of county cricket at the end of the Sri Lanka tour.