All charged up!
A rendezvous with the most humble and the best bowler in the world is bound to leave you smiling for the next few hours. Deccan Charger Dale Steyn and boyfriend of South African actress Jeanne Kietzmann was in the city to battle it out with his former team Royal Challengers Bangalore. “Bengaluru is a lovely city. When I played for RCB, they always prepared the pitch for the first bowler, which was me. So it was quite nice. I don’t only love to play in Bengaluru but I love the crowd here, always very supportive and fun.” he says.
Not only does Dale love India, but more so the people he meets here. “I enjoy the Indian guys; they teach me all naughty words in Hindi. Over the years, I have learnt to say, hello, thank you and simple things like that. Now, I know the Masterji advert,” he chuckles.
He admits that it does get tiring during the IPL. “It is the three days of free time that makes up for the busy day, so it is not bad,” he adds. Dale is one international player that has been a part of the IPL since its inception. He says, “I miss the second season. I broke my thumb early on in the competition, after playing three games. I was around the whole time up until we made it to the final that I was not required to play.”
Dale believes that a lot has changed for the better in this tournament. “It has become very professional now. I remember in the beginning, nobody really knew what it was all about and how to go about it. Different cultures and people in a change room. It’s like cave men meeting other cave men. Over the five years, people have learnt how to communicate with each other. In the beginning it was chaos but now it has become very structured. The teams have also developed and grown,” he says.
For a fast bowler in this format of cricket, he has to give his best all the time. He says, “Fast bowling keeps fielders in the game. I try and get a few overs right at the beginning, if given to me. If I bowl really quickly and get a wicket, it excites people. Not just the crowd but my teammates as well. It keeps them wanting to go somewhere.”
About being the proud owner of the title of best bowler in the world, Dale says, “It is nice to have people say that but it doesn’t affect you when you are on the field. Off the field, the attention is pretty cool. Speed and accuracy are two gifts I possess. I can bowl the ball where I want to bowl it. Accuracy is a bonus. Sometimes you get one of the two. But when you are playing as much as we play, some days are better than other days.”
Talking about some days being better than others, he adds, “It is tough to deal with failure but it is part of the game, it is part of life. I think I have realised over the years, that there is a lot worse happening in the world than losing a cricket game.”
Dale loves the heat in India but is glad that IPL is not a test series. He says, “Imagine the IPL being a 50-over game. Oh goodness! It’s nice to play in different condition. I’m going to go home now and it is going to be the middle of winters in South Africa. I appreciate the fact that I’m in India and that I am enjoying some hot weather while I can.”
For this South African, country boy, ace bowler and Delhi Daredevil’s Morne Morkel serves as healthy competition. He says, “We play for the same country but when we are playing against each other, we bring it on. I love it that he’s bowling so well. I need him to do well because I will be spending a lot more time with him in the national colours than in these current matches.”
To support him during these two months, Dale is happy to have his girlfriend travel with him. He says, “Her mom and sister were visiting for a week. They are good value and they’re as clumsy as clowns, very entertaining. In a place where you’re losing games and returning tired, it is nice to have them around to make you laugh and feel better.” His girlfriend, Jeanne has visited India six times and loves it. Dale says, “She loves the shopping, she loves the bargaining, and the massages. You don’t get that kind of thing back home. She loves the culture and the temples. She’s very spiritual.”
Dale has a very positive outlook in life. He does not have many cricketing icons but says, “I look at any sportsman in the highest level and try to learn something from them — Federer, Nadal, to Tiger Woods, (who I hope comes back) and surfer Kelly Slater. If I could use some of that in cricket, I do. I’m not just relying on cricketers to make me a better cricketer. I’m looking around the block.”