IPL 2020: No cricket before IPL hurting Dale Steyn’s variations, says Fanie de Villiers

Speedster Dale Steyn’s poor performance in the ongoing Indian Premier League where he has picked just one wicket in three matches and conceded 11.40 runs an over can be blamed on lack of cricket due to Covid-19 restrictions, believes former South Africa fast bowler Fanie de Villiers.

de Villiers, who played Test and ODI cricket for South Africa in the 1990s and is now a cricket commentator, believes that due to no cricket prior to the IPL, Steyn hasn’t been able to mobilise the finer motor on variations in bowling needed in limited-overs format like T20 cricket.

“The rules and regulations in South Africa during Covid-19 were so strict that you could not go out and practice even a bit. He is not young and has suffered from injury (in recent past), so he needed a bit of cricket before getting into IPL. I’d say Covid is the main culprit,” de Villiers told IANS from South Africa.

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Finer motor skills make you use muscle memory and bring out variations like yorkers, slower deliveries that are needed in T20 cricket to be successful, says the former fast bowler.

“If you don’t play enough, you can’t mobilise the finer motor deliveries and you are going to struggle.”

Steyn’s South African teammate Kagiso Rabada, who is 25, has been successful this IPL, and leads the race for Purple Cap for most wickets. Anrich Nortje, another South African and who is 26, has ramped up high speeds to scare away the batsmen.

de Villiers attributed the success to Rabada and Nortje’s young age.

“Rabada hasn’t been prone to injury and he is young and strong. When I was 33-34, I remember how hard and difficult it had become for me to bowl. I think Steyn would be fine next year with some cricket behind him,” said de Villiers.

Steyn, 37, has bowled at an almost predictable pace and line and length, not bringing out any variation. It has left him to be an easy meat for batsmen.

On Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi, the right-arm pacer conceded 43 runs in his four overs without picking a wicket. This was his first game in over a month – the last time he played was on September 24 against Kings XI Punjab. He had conceded 57 runs in his four overs in that game.

Steyn’s only wicket in the tournament came in the match against SunRisers Hyderabad on September 21, in which he got Sandeep Sharma. He gave away 33 runs in 3.4 overs in that game.

Steyn has 439 Test wickets, the most by a South African bowler and is eighth in the list of all-time top wicket-takers in Tests.