South African pacer Dale Steyn has been at the top of his game since his debut in 2004. Currently, making a comeback into cricket after a lengthy injury break, Steyn was asked by Sky Sports' Rob Key to choose his dream XI.
Steyn was playing for Hampshire against Kent in the Royal London One-Day Cup in England.
Steyn started by choosing his openers and he went for his country mate and first international captain South Africa’s Graeme Smith. He also named him the captain of his team. Steyn gave the reason of Smith being an exceptional leader and said, “He was a pretty good batter - anybody that averages close to 50 opening the batting, especially in South African conditions, is going to get the nod.”
For Smith’s opening partner, Steyn went with India’s Virender Sehwag, one of the four batsmen in Test cricket to have two triple hundreds to his name. He called him one of the most difficult batsmen to bowl to and cited that, “However, he once scored 300 against us in a day in Chennai, so why wouldn't I have him?”
Hashim Amla comes in at no.3 for Dale Steyn. The first and only South African batsman to score a triple hundred in Test cricket, Amla according to Steyn is, “He is amazing - he averages in the fifties and is very cool, calm and collected. Whenever you feel like you are in a crisis, Hash settles the situation.”
Steyn chose world’s best no.4 batsman in Sachin Tendulkar at this important position and said that Sachin made him feel hopeless.
Jacques Kallis and Kumar Sangakkara come in next and Sangakkara was chosen by Steyn to be the wicketkeeper of his team. Kallis was Steyn’s childhood hero and he says, “I had a birthday card signed by Jacques when I was about 12 or 13: "To Dale, Happy birthday, Best wishes, Jacques Kallis". I never thought I'd be playing alongside this guy.”
About Sangakkara, Steyn says, “He is probably my favorite player other than Kallis - he is just amazing and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.”
AB de Villiers comes in next in Steyn’s lineup. Steyn and De Villiers made their Test debuts in the same match against England and have played opposite one another since childhood.
Andrew Flintoff and Shane Warne come next in Steyn’s dream team. About Flintoff, Steyn says, “I felt like Fred had game-changing moments and you can't not have someone like him in the side. There were probably better players but everyone knew when he was coming in with bat or ball in hand. You had to have done your homework because he was special.”
“People paid money to watch him play. I'd still pay money to watch him abuse a batter and work somebody out. Watching him as a player was so exciting - even if he got hit for four off the worst ball it felt like he'd planned it. The batters never knew what was coming. He was magic,” Steyn says about Shane Warne.
For the two fast bowlers in his team, Steyn chose Wasim Akram and Glenn McGrath- two giants of the game, who had success in all the formats they played in.
Steyn said about Wasim, “He could swing it and bowl at high speed. Even guys who played against him, like Kallis and Mark Boucher, said that he was one of the best.”
About McGrath, Steyn only had good words to say, “He ran in, assessed conditions, and felt like he knew exactly what he was doing. I loved watching him in the Ashes where he used the slope at Lord's, whether he was bowling from the Pavilion End or the Nursery End. Ashes cricket is like Love Island - you become obsessed and can't miss it.”
Dale Steyn didn’t forget two of his childhood heroes in Allan Donald and Jonty Rhodes and chose them as the 12th and 13th men in his dream team. Steyn says about them, “They were my favourites growing up. When I was running in as a kid I was Allan Donald every single day of the week. If I was fielding for my school team, I was Jonty Rhodes.”
Dale Steyn's dream Test team:
Graeme Smith (C), Virender Sehwag, Hashim Amla, Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara (WK), AB de Villiers, Andrew Flintoff, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Glenn McGrath
Special mentions: Allan Donald and Jonty Rhodes