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Dale Steyn Sets Sight on 2019 World Cup and 500 Test Wickets

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: June 11, 2018, 2:40 PM IST
Dale Steyn Sets Sight on 2019 World Cup and 500 Test Wickets

Dale Steyn. (Getty Images)

He might be 14 Tests shy of reaching the 100-Test mark, but South Africa pacer Dale Steyn is up for the challenge. The pacer has his sight fixed on the magic number. In fact, the 34-year-old wants to achieve the milestone of 500 Test wickets before he finally hangs his boots. An injury in the opening Test against India in Cape Town in January has seen him warm the bench, but the pacer is confident that he can stretch his career till he is 38 or 39, before plying his trade in county cricket.

"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.”

While the likes of AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel have retired, creating a big void in the national team, Steyn is keen to get back stronger and play in the World Cup next year in England.

"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," he said.

Steyn is currently playing county cricket for Hampshire as he is on his way back to the national team after the injury break. The pacer is looking at this stint to prove his form and fitness to the selectors before they meet to pick the squad for next month's tour of Sri Lanka. With 419 wickets in 86 Tests, he needs just two wickets to go past the all-time South Africa record held by Shaun Pollock.

"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."

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First Published: June 11, 2018, 2:12 PM IST

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