Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa pace bowler Dale Steyn has admitted that he “said too much” during his heated dispute with Australia captain Michael Clarke during the Test series in March.
The incident first started with Proteas seamer Vernon Philander and Australia pace bowler James Pattinson getting involved in an argument after Philander was successful in having his dismissal overturned on the final day of the third Test in Cape Town.
Once the dispute started, Steyn immediately came to Philander’s rescue and ended up exchanging a lot of words with Clarke.
“That’s pretty much where it started right there,” he said. “I think when the game was on the line we had 30 balls to bat to save the Test match. They needed two wickets, it was hot, it was day five. It was everybody wants to see in Test cricket isn’t it. That’s why you go and watch day one of the Test match is always going to be a bit sporty and day five when it boils down to almost the last ball kind of stuff that’s why people pay money to go and fly around the world and watch Test cricket.
“It was great theatre, great to watch. But it just got heated and a little bit out of hand. And things got said that probably shouldn’t have been said. One team won, one guy was extremely happy and the other guy didn’t win, and he wasn’t very happy about it, so if that Test match was a draw, who knows what would have been said when we were shaking hands. Would there have been an apology, would someone have said something? At the end of the day it doesn’t matter man.
“That’s why we go and watch cricket, it’s great fun, it’s great to see. I don’t expect anything less in this series. It would be a disappointment if Mitch Johnson didn’t abuse Faf, it would be disappointing if I didn’t abuse somebody. And Warner didn’t have a go at someone, why would anyone want to come and watch us play cricket apart from our skills? It’s got to be entertaining and that’s why we play.”
Steyn also conceded that his comments were uncalled for when the two nations met again for an ODI tri-series in Zimbabwe in August.
“I don’t think I can mention it over the air now,” Steyn said. “[That’s] why I said if I see him we’ll have a normal chat between the two of us. It’s got nothing to do about I’ll see you in the car park and we’ll beat the crap out of each other. It’s got nothing to do with that man, maybe I just said too much in Zimbabwe.
“The issue got blown out completely, it was like two schoolgirls the way the media got hold of it. I felt like Clarkey had his opportunity to say something at the end of the Cape Town Test and obviously I wasn’t in the press conference there and the next opportunity I got was a couple of months later in Zimbabwe so I said what I felt.
“It wouldn’t have been fair if I’d said something straight after, I would have been called a sore loser after losing the series or the match so I just kept my mouth closed until it was my turn to say something. I didn’t want it to start a massive thing. It did, doesn’t matter. He’s not playing now. He’s obviously injured. Hopefully he gets well, he’s a great player and I think there’s enough respect from both of us, we’ve played against each other for long enough now and it’s just kind of got blown out of the water. It’s a bit silly really in all honesty.”
However, Steyn did not stop short of saying that the Baggy Greens are renowned for bullying and “being in your face kind of cricketers”.
“Aussies are that kind of side they’re always in your face,” he said. “I think of all the sides that play Test cricket in the world, the Aussies are always well known for being in your face kind of cricketers, kind of bullying teams and stuff like that. I don’t play my cricket like that personally.
“I may look like that when I’m on the field and everything like that but I am a fast bowler, that’s just what you’ve got to do at the end of the day. I don’t quite agree with the way some of the things are done I think there’s a line. And I try to stay close to that line but never over-stepping it and if I do over-step it, I’ll be the first guy to put my hand up and say I’m sorry and go and do whatever I can to fix that.
“Australia have always been that kind of side, so it doesn’t surprise me when they come hard or when somebody you’ve been a team-mate with before doesn’t greet you at breakfast, that’s just the way it is.”