In this landmark 100th episode of Radio Cricket, Dale Steyn speaks to Nishant about his life away from cricket and growing up in the bush. They also discuss the rigours of the IPL, how to cope when legions of fans are mobbing you, and staying grounded.
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Nishant Joshi: Obviously, you’re quite known for having grown up in Phalaborwa (I hope I pronounced that correctly), the bush sort of area just near the entrance of the Kruger Park. And that’s relatively rare for the cricketers, I think in this particular South African team as well. You still keep referring back to Phalaborwa as your real home, and you seem to spend quite a lot of time there – how much has it really influenced you?
Dale Steyn: You know Nish, I grew up there… Pretty much everything that I know up until the age of nineteen was – that was my base. So my whole family still live there: my mum, my dad, my sister, my grandparents, and it’s just everything that I know. Even when I was growing up, we didn’t have TV’s and jazz like that, so I spent a lot of time doing these different things – I played sport, I spent a lot of time in the bush, I fished, and I hunted back then which my grandfather did. I don’t do it anymore. I don’t spend too much time there anymore. I’ve just came back from there now – I went to go and visit them. I find that it’s part of my training, so I’ve got two weeks before I leave for Bangladesh and I know I’ve got to get the physical side of training going, but that isn’t my mental prep. If I don’t go, then I don’t go and see them, I might go on tour thinking: ‘Jeez, I haven’t seen them, I feel a bit guilty, I feel a bit bad, I feel upset that I haven’t connected with them again and have just been brought back down to earth, because my grandparents love bringing me back down to earth – they love it’. So I find that it forms part of my training now – I have to go and see my family every now and then, I have to go back out there and just kind of find my feet again before I can come back to Cape Town and into the real world again, and just go. It’s a special place. If I didn’t live in Cape Town, I’d probably move back up there in that area, live in the bush, get involved in wildlife somehow, or something like that. It’s one of the two. That’s why Cape Town is so good, because it’s got the ocean, it’s got the mountains, it’s got bush not far away, and I couldn’t live in Jo’burg anymore. It just drove me insane.
You say you grew up without TV – Phalaborwa sounds like a pretty remote area. How did you manage to get into cricket then?
Basically we had TV’s but just never spent a lot of time watching them. There are a lot more better things to do. What happened was: I played all sorts of sport and then I’ve got family that are from Zim (my whole family actually comes from Zim), so my dad’s brother’s kids played cricket and they would come over. We’d either go over there in June/July holidays and then they would come to us in December, or whatever. They kind of introduced me to it. And I figured it out in the back yard: we were playing a little bit in the back yard, just underarming, messing around, and then I went to school in January and actually noticed for the first time that kids were playing cricket.
There’s this thing in South Africa called mini-cricket (I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it) – it’s like softball cricket to introduce kids to the game. And I started playing that, and it just then took off from there, very quickly. We could hardly make a team when I was in school – we didn’t have enough players to make 11 players, and through the mini-cricket on Saturday mornings, everyone would go. We built up enough players to be able to make a team, and then we started playing against teams from other nearby towns, even the other schools that were in the same town as I was in. And then it kind of took off from there, from that point on. It’s where my cricket started, and that was well after ’92, so up to 1992 World Cup, I didn’t even know that cricket existed. I used to watch these videos at my cousin’s house when we’d go to Zim, about the ’92 World Cup, and I’d just be glued to this TV, watching highlights of all those games and old videos. So even when I made my first-class debut, my cricket knowledge wasn’t as good as most people’s around me; it was just pure skill, it was what I was doing or playing, and stuff like that. But my knowledge of the game was nowhere – I had a lot of growing up to do with regards to how the game is actually played. It’s not just a game of bat and ball, it’s mental and all that kind of stuff. And I think a lot of people learn that watching the game today on TV – I never had that part, I caught onto that a lot later on.
So do you think that’s helped you a bit, because it seems like you’ve done – maybe what you were forced to do – a bit more self-learning, rather than being influenced by commentators? I think we underestimate the influence that commentators and presenters can even have on the development of a young cricketer.
Definitely, even now I watch TV on mute. I’ve never seen Sehwag move his feet and he cuts the ball from all over. And then the guy gets out, and it’s ‘ah, he didn’t get his foot to the ball’. It’s the biggest load of bollocks I’ve ever heard in my life. But I grew up just – I was given a ball. My coaching philosophy – well not my coaching philosophy, but the coach who coached me – was: ‘here’s a ball, just run in and bowl really quickly. And we’ll teach you how to land the ball in the right place later.’ And it didn’t matter about my arms, it didn’t matter about where my head went or anything like that – I just learnt how to bowl really quickly and really rapidly at a young age. And then when I got into the academies after school, they would help me, tell me my left arm was like a rudder, I could use it to get direction, my head needed to be more still. So growing up it was great – I didn’t have that kind of stuff to listen to and what can cloud your mind sometimes. I just kind of ran in there and bowled. But in saying that, you see a lot of kids today who are really good; they can land the ball in the right area just by watching TV, maybe listening and stuff like that. So there’s two sides to the coin I guess. You’ve just got to figure out which way, which path works for you best.
Yeah, you’ve got to filter out all the bulllshit I guess. So what age did you move to the city from the bush, which seems like quite a huge move for a young man?
Yeah, well everybody in Phalaborwa either start working on the mine, or they somehow leave the town and end up coming back to the town. And it’s a sad story. You go back there and all the people who I went to school with are married to somebody that one of their friends were dating, or something like that, in high school. It’s just I couldn’t deal with that – I was like ‘there’s no ways, I’m out of here’. So I think that alone forced me to get out of that place. I moved when I was 18, but I went to a hostel at the age of 13. I went to another school outside of Phalaborwa and then I’d just come home at weekends, to just hang out with family and close friends. And then at 18 I left home, packed my stuff, got a car and I was gone. And since 18 I’ve been going home maybe once or twice a year, and back then maybe a little bit more – the odd other weekend or something like that. But since then I’ve been away, just I needed to get out, move to Pretoria – luckily, that was the year of the World Cup. It was 2003 and I was a net bowler for the guys at SuperSport Park – it was the same year that I was in the academy. So after that World Cup and later that year, I was picked up quite quickly by The Titans, who were in Pretoria, and then that’s where my career kind of just took off.
So how was that, as a young man – the juxtaposition to going from the bush to the city? And especially being without your family, without your friends – almost like moving to a completely new, different world? Was it overwhelming for you?
Yeah, it was crazy, I won’t lie. Like any 18 year-old, I had other things in mind at that time – alcohol was definitely one of them. It was a lot of fun. It wasn’t like I was an alcoholic, just it was a lot of fun. You grow up in Phalaborwa, there’s not a lot to do and then you go to the big city and there’s clubs and there’s loads of people, there’s different things. So my mate actually said to me: ‘Listen, come up and do the try-outs or the trials for the academy in Pretoria and I was like: ‘no I’m not too interested’. And he said: ‘listen, Pretoria has the best parties in the world’. I was like: ‘alright, I’m coming’! So I went and kind of just hung out with them a little bit, and then I made the academy side. It was overwhelming at first but I hadn’t been living at home since I was 13, so I’d been kind of living on people’s couches; I’d been a bit of a gypsy since the age of the 13. I just gelled in pretty fine. I found a club that I started playing for, and they were paying me. They paid me five hundred grand a game, and I’d never been played to play cricket before in my life so it was great. And on the odd weekend where I didn’t play cricket, I would go home, or in the week I’d go home and go and visit family and then I’d use that money to race back up – for petrol money and accommodation – and carry on playing. It was great, but like I say I’ve been a gypsy since the age of 13, I’ve been able to bounce all over the place, so it didn’t scare me too much to move out of Phalaborawa – I think it’s just something that I wanted. I was up and gone.
Nomad would probably be the better term than gypsy.
Yeah, I’m hanging out with a bit of a gypsy right now, and she’s calling me one, so that’s probably why I refer to it as gypsy.
So, you seem to have a lot of hobbies outside of cricket as well. From what I know of you, it seems like cricket is a big part of your life, but it’s not the be all and end all. So how did you end up developing these other hobbies that you now have? I think you’re into surfing, and guitar, and photography.
I love photography and I’ve fished my whole life, since I was a kid. Then the same group of friends, we started skateboarding and, being such a small town, we got really good at it and there was nobody better than us at the time. We used to watch all these skateboarding videos from the States, and we just thought that that was the norm; whatever these guys were doing was normal. So we would do similar things. And then when I moved to Pretoria and I started skateboarding there, I was a level better than most people, and they were like ‘how are you doing this?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know’. I kind of figured it out that I’d been watching these videos and just thought that was the norm, so that’s what you needed to do to be able to be on these videos. And it’s just kind of stuck with me. Photography was something that I really wanted to do, because I enjoyed taking photos of my friends that would skateboard, and nobody was ever good enough to take photos of me. So I’ve got loads of photos of my friends, but I’ve got none of myself. And I thought after school that I would become a photographer – that’s kind of what I wanted to do. Actually, initially I wanted to become a sportsman, it didn’t matter what it was. I’d either be a fisherman, a skater, a surfer – something in sport was what I was going to do. And if that didn’t work out, my next thing was going to be photography. And, as I said, cricket kind of just took over. As soon as I started getting paid for cricket, that was it. When I was getting paid to play club cricket, I was like ‘that’s it, this is what I’m doing’. And I’ve been lucky enough now that I’ve made some money, I’m able to afford to buy myself a nice camera and get into the hobby. I can go on awesome fishing trips that most people dream of, and I get to go on them once or twice a year. And I live on the coast here in Cape Town, so the skateboard is in the garage but the waves are constant, just five minutes away from my house so I just got into surfing too. So I’ve always loved that kind of stuff. And I’ve found that if you put all those skills together, they all kind of relate to life and cricket, and I can use them all together to better myself in whatever I’m doing. Cricket is a massive visualisation; you’ve got to have good visualisation when it comes to cricket. Being able to see how you’re going to release the ball and knock over a batter, and I used to do that in skateboarding, because if you couldn’t see yourself doing a trick down ten stairs, you would definitely break your angle. So I was able to put those two together quite nicely. And photography is all about art, and trying to make it look good and everything, so I tried to make my cricket look good – nice and flowy in my action. Everything’s just kind of gelled together quite nicely.
You talk about visualisation, so when you’re walking back to your mark, is that when, in your own head, you’re imagining knocking over the batsman’s stump?
Yeah, so I basically come up with a plan, like a game plan in my over, how I’m going to use my over, when am I going to bowl my short ball. And then I’ve got a killer ball, the one that I know is the one that I know I’m planning on getting him. At least two of the deliveries that I bowl in the over are the ball that I’m looking to get the wicket with. I love taking a wicket on a half-volley, where he smacks it straight to cover, ok, we all love that – but it’s the one that you plan. It’s like where you bowl three outside off stump, and then you bowl that big, booming inswinger, and he leaves it and it hits top of off stump. That’s the visualisation right there. So I see myself down at fine leg, I know what I want to do, I know who I’m bowling to. I even get grumpy when I plan my over to a specific batsman and then somebody bowls and that batsman’s not on strike. By the time I get to give my hat to the umpire, I am pissed off because I plan six balls to the right hander who is now not on strike, and I’ve got to bowl to the left-hander, or whatever it is. So I do plan my over, I visualise how I’m going to go about doing it, and then just try and get it. And if it doesn’t work, I need to adjust on my feet which is something I’ve learnt through Twenty20, because people don’t allow you to bowl to them anymore – they come at you. Whereas a couple of years ago, you could still run in and visualise something and do it. But now it’s kind of different, you have to adjust to your feet, you have to try and guess what the batter’s going to do rather than just what I’m going to do. But yeah, visualisation was a massive thing and still is in my game.
And you talked about the opportunities that cricket has given you in terms of money and everything – has that changed your family at all and their perception on life, and seeing that there is something quite massive outside of the small area of Phalaborwa?
I think so. I’ve just gotten back from a trip up there, and my sister is definitely keen to send her kids out of Phalaborwa to a better schooling environment, so she would have to send them to hostel. And she’s quite tight with her kids, so I think my achievements have pushed her in that direction where she feels like there’s something better for them out of that town. I was born there, my sister was born there; my sister’s 35 and still lives there. And I think she wants the best for her kids, and she’s seen what I’ve been able to do, so maybe something like that. My grandparents still live there, they come down here – I think my mum wants to move to Cape Town now too, she wants to get out of that small town a little bit now. It can get a bit much. It’s a great place but when you put everybody all together, it can get a bit much. But they’re very happy with my achievements and I try and look after them as much as I can. And they keep you grounded: As soon as I doing things that are a little bit out there, I can just see them shaking their head and I’m like ‘ok, cool, that one’s going to go and away now’. No, but they’re very good.
And do you feel like you’ve had an influence on the town overall?
I don’t know. Every time I do go there and I bump into people, everyone will always say, ‘you’re waving the flag for Phalaborwa, and you make us all proud’ and stuff like that. But I don’t know; I never saw myself as anybody famous when I was growing up or anything, so it’s still hard to comprehend when someone comes and asks me for a signature, even today. Or when they come and shake your hand, and they’re in awe, like they don’t know what to do… I find it really weird, because I wasn’t like that. Like I said earlier, I never had these heroes on TV and stuff, so I never had that same kind of aura about people… I met people, and if they were famous, ‘it’s cool, nice to meet you, you know what I mean. So let’s roll on.’ And it’s hard to try and understand how they see me, because I don’t see myself like that. So I’m always trying humanise myself and bring myself down so people can see that I’m only human and anybody can do what I do, anyone can achieve what I achieve if they just have a little bit of talent and they put their mind to it. You need a bit of talent obviously, but you get guys like Gary Kirsten who didn’t have talent, and he just had a special head and a special mind, and he was able to do his thing. So anybody can do whatever they want to do. You don’t need to be Justin Bieber or whoever to be that famous – you can do that. We’re all human.
You talk about being grounded and everything, but that must have changed quite a lot for you. In spite of that, however hard you might try, but every time you go to India in particular, you seem to just get swamped.
Yeah, it’s crazy. India is – I don’t even know what the word is. As much as I tell my family and friends and stuff, they almost don’t believe me. I have to take videos and show them. And now I’ve just decided, ‘bugger it. You know what, I’m going fly you guys there so you guys can see it yourselves’. So every year at the IPL, I’m bringing two friends over and they come and hang out with me for two or three weeks, and they get to experience it themselves. And even they have come back and said they knew it was bad, but they didn’t realise it was that bad and it was that crazy. So yeah, I’m going to try and get my dad and my grandparents over there – they may be a bit old. I think they’ve felt it before. Like when you go to a game, even South Africa playing in Jo’burg or Pretoria, and they just see how crazy it is. And I’m like, ‘well, multiply that by a thousand and that’s what India is like’. It is pretty crazy but like I say, I’ve got them and they’re always there to try and pull me back down to earth.
You’ve played in the IPL every season, and I think this was the first season where you found yourself out of the team a bit more regularly. And as far as I’m aware, I think that’s the first time since you came into the international scene and into the South African side, that you didn’t play regularly. So how was that to cope with, especially considering you’re pretty much the senior fast bowler in the world?
A slight adjustment – you have to adjust. I also kind of found that after the World Cup and the loss at the World Cup, it’s a tough one. You put four years of hard training into it, and it doesn’t go your way. You fall just that hurdle short, and it’s not because I got hit for six by Grant Elliott, it’s not because JP dropped the catch that we lost that game – it was a combination of everything that caused us to lose that semi-final. And then you’ve got to deal with it. But the biggest thing is that ten days later you have to start playing in the next game for the next team. And I personally just kind of found it was tough to get on the bike again and just go. And I really enjoyed not playing, actually. I really enjoyed the fact that Trent Boult, who had just come out of the World Cup, was on a role and we were both on the same team together. And he was able to take over the job as being the main bowler; even though I was the senior bowler he was going to play – he was the in-form bowler. And I agree: you want your team to win – the guys that are in form are the guys that must play. And if you’re the guy that’s not in form, then you have to bite your lip and you have to sit down, and you have to hope the best for your team. But I kind of really enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to play. It’s a tough thing to swallow – after four years of hard graft and everything like that, and then get knocked out. That’s everything that you prepare for, is to win a World Cup. I took a bit of a beating from that point of view, and I kind of enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to play. I was just like, ‘I actually can’t play right now’. And hopefully it doesn’t stay like that all the time, but it was this time, it was definitely this time. It was almost like coming out of a long-term relationship with someone – you just kind of need that little bit of a period to get over it for a while. You can’t just jump into the next thing full of energy, because you don’t have that energy. It’s impossible to do that. As much as you fake it, and as much as you try, it’s difficult. And cricket is a game that will catch up with you. There’s no faking it in cricket – guys are good, guys are really, really good. You can fake it for as long as you want, but if they’re good enough, they’ll find that little bit of weakness in you and they’ll capitalise. And I just had that little bit of weakness in me right there, where I just didn’t feel like I was up for it. And you need to find the love for the game again. I’ve got a great break now, I’m pretty excited about getting out to Bangladesh and playing in the Test matches – I love Test cricket. And I also find that when I’m in love with the game, I perform at my best, and I perform my ultimate. Just after that World Cup, I probably wasn’t in love with the game as much as I should’ve been, and sitting on the bench is probably the best place for me to be.
You talk about that last ball six from Grant Elliott – what was going through your mind when he hit that ball?
Well, I tell you what was going through my mind before he hit the ball was that up to that point: he hadn’t hit a ball for six yet. To be honest with you, he played a pretty good knock in running the ball to third man, using the pace, hitting twos, but he wasn’t hitting boundaries. And even the last three overs leading up that point, where he tried to slog because he was even feeling the pressure – that’s what games are about. They’re about pressure. He was feeling the pressure – he was dropped twice, he mishit one that just landed just in midwicket. We had a cow-er out; I’m not saying that we should have had a mid-wicket, I’m just saying that he was mishitting it, and they were hard length, belly-button to chest-length deliveries. Anything fuller than that, he was able to run, use the pace. So I figured I’d run in, I’d set my field accordingly, I’d hit a hard length and I’d ask him to hit me for six. And if he gets out, we’ve got it. They might cross but we’ve got it. And he hit it – he hit for six, man. What do you do? You come up with a plan, your captain – he agrees to the plan, and you go for it. I mean at that point, you’re shattered, it didn’t work out – I mean, what do you do? You pick yourself up is what you do and you go and shake your opponent’s hands and you say, ‘thank you for a great game’ which I’m always in respect for, because when you’re playing against opposition, win or lose, they’re also participating: it’s definitely part of the game to do that. And then when you get into your quiet space, you do what you want, you break down your changing room, you cry, you sit there, you do whatever you want. And I walked back into the changing room, I just kind of sat down, had a little bit of a giggle, had a couple of tears, had a couple more tears, and then had to pick myself up. Tough, tough, tough. That’s life – eh?
Yeah. Were there any consolation words spoken by your other teammates? Were people trying to, I suppose, prick the bubble of sadness at that time?
There’s a couple – I think the senior guys tried to pick up the younger fellas. Myself and AB… Morne was feeling it heavily. AB was himself, Hashim was really good – but it was important to show that – we didn’t want to show as much weakness in the changing room. I think it’s really important for guys like Quinton, and some of the younger players, and Riley and David Miller, Kyle Abbott – these are the guys that are going to have the opportunity to win a World Cup in four years’ time again. Hopefully, if I’m fit and strong, and they still want me around, maybe I can have a go again. But those are the guys that are going to win a World Cup, so you kind of need to lay the path down for them, and lay the foundations for them if things don’t go according to plan, what the reaction is going to be, because there’s going to be younger players and that kind of thing. I think that’s what Graeme and Jacques did in the last World Cup, and just kind of showed us that, ‘it’s over, but trust me, the sun will come up tomorrow and life will be ok. Life will be ok’. And yeah, but I took this one a little bit more serious that the last one, I did feel – every time you go a World Cup, you feel like you can win it, but I felt this time we had something really, really special and it didn’t go that way. But you need to pick yourself up, because there are other guys that are watching, and you need to control yourself for them too. I think the guys handled it pretty well.
So what were you saying to a younger player like Quinton de Kock at that time?
It’s tough to remember, but just putting your arm around him and telling him it’s going to be ok. Reminding him that he’s young and he’s going to have many opportunities, and laughing about it. Maybe laughing at the fact that he’s got more opportunities than I’ve got, and my days have gone and he’s got the rest of his career. And just like that – trying to get smiles on people’s faces. And then, once we were able to do that, we gathered the guys together and we went across to the New Zealand changing room, and we went and hung out with them, because that’s what you do, you know. They’re a great bunch of guys, the New Zealanders, and I know a lot of the guys too, and they were playing great cricket so it was – it’s something that every team does, I feel, especially in bigger things like semi-finals, finals, and at the end of a Test series we always do it. And we went across there. And they looked buggered – they looked like they were drained. It’s like when you finish that race and you’ve accomplished it, and now you are spent. We pushed them, we pushed them all the way, and of the two teams we were probably the more energetic in our changing room, because when we went in there they were excited about winning, but they were broken. They were broken because they had won; we were broken because we had lost. But we still had that little bit in us, just feel like ‘we could have gone that much further’. And they were down. But once we got in there, everyone shared a beer, general chat, talking about IPL, final coming up, the tournament, what worked well for the guys, wishing each other luck – all the general stuff and everything like that. The guys know each other pretty well, had a good laugh, wished them well and then we had to get out of there.
Yeah, I guess the unique thing about that knockout game was that it was such a high-pressure site, such a high-intensity game; the quality of cricket was really good in that game. And I think you can say, really hand-on-heart, that both teams – they didn’t leave anything out on that pitch. Both teams really gave it their all. I think that’s why it stood out as maybe the game of that tournament. It really was a special game. I suppose after that game, you mentioned Hashim Amla as a real calming influence – he just seems to have an aura about him, where he can be the sort of person to look up to, in that situation, where there can be all this commotion and despondency in the dressing room, and then he just walks in and it’s just like – well, Hashim’s walked in, everything will be fine.
Yeah, it is – I promise you, it’s like that. We’ve got a couple of guys in our team, and he’s one of those guys that – Graeme was exactly like that too. Graeme had this real aura about him that it doesn’t matter what happens; it’s going to be ok. Win or lose, it’s ok. And Hash has that now; he’s developed that skill over years. And he’s someone that anybody can turn to at any time – he’s got good advice, and he’s a solid bloke. Solid, solid bloke. I love that guy.
So I wanted to talk a bit about your guitar playing – how did you get into that?
So my dad started playing guitar when I was about 15, and he was like, ‘let’s play guitar together’ and I was at that age where I was like, ‘nah, I don’t want to do what you do, I’m going to do my own thing, whatever’. And yeah, he’s been playing since, so he’s like Jimi Hendrix on a guitar right now, and I am absolutely shit. I’ve got two guitars and I’ve had them for a while now. And I mean I can strum around and I can string around and play a little bit and everything like that, but I’m not going to be making any bands anytime soon. I do love music though; I absolutely love music. I grew up listening to music, my dad loves music. My big thing about guitar playing is that I need to get better than my dad, because I’m not allowing him to be better than me. So I’m secretly practising as much as I can, but he’s got almost 16 years advantage over me right now so yeah, so maybe when I’m retired and I get to spend a little bit more time on the couch, I can get into it. But it’s sitting on the couch over there – you can’t see, but it’s there – and yeah. Anybody that comes to my house too that can play guitar, they pick it up and they jam – it’s just a great little thing. The guys always carry them around too; like in the IPL, Rusty loves playing guitar – he’s pretty cool. He actually got me into it – he had a guitar at the IPL when I was playing for Deccan Chargers, and JP had one too, so the three of us would sit there and we would play. And I was terrible, but it was cool because there’s nothing else to do, so you just kind of hang out and play. And Dan Christian is an amazing guitarist; he’s ridiculous, honestly he’s so good. And even Trent actually plays well too; he’s bloody good too. So the guys all play, but I’m the worst of the lot I reckon.
So Deccan Chargers were the most musical team… I didn’t realise you had some main guitarists in that one team… That’s pretty cool.
We could have started a band at that point, I reckon.
Oh, that’s cool. So what sort of stuff are you listening to now, Dale?
I grew up listening to – my dad was like a rock kind of person – so everything… I don’t know if you can classify The Eagles and Bread as rock, but it was that era. And then he would listen to Smokie. There were so many bands that I was growing up – Uriah, Deep Purple – this is all the stuff that I grew up listening to. I loved it. And lately I’ve been into (well, I’m still into), bands like Rising Again so it’s alternative rock I guess. They’re my favourite band out right now. I listened to a lot of Third Eye Blind through high school – loved Third Eye Blind. And Counting Crows was another band that I really enjoyed. So anything with that little bit of adrenalin that gets your heart really racing. That’s what I’m kind of into right now. People hate coming and getting in my car, or coming to my house, because I don’t have the modern Rhianna bullshit music that has been played on the TV every day. If you want to listen to that, find it one of the radios, on TV, or something like that. But if you’re going to listen to my iPod, you’re not going to find any of that stuff at all; it’s mainly just rock music, and acoustic guitarring and stuff. Ben Howard, Ed Sheeran, that kind of thing.
I’ve found that once you start playing an instrument like guitar, then you listen to something like Rhianna or one of the Justin Bieber popstars, then you realise that even by playing really shitty guitar, you’re pretty much already better than them, if you put on auto-tune and all of that sort of thing.
Have you seen things on YouTube? I sit on YouTube for hours watching all these covers, watching all these people doing covers, and trying to learn and stuff like that. And massive respect for the people that do this kind of stuff, because there are some people who are wizards on guitars, and great voices, and you’ll never see them on TV, you’re never hear them on the radio or something – you can find the odd video with like 3000 views on YouTube. Shit. I love it; I could lose myself in YouTube.
Yeah, I think now you mention Deccan Chargers, one of the best YouTube videos of recent years was Kumar Sangakkara singing ‘I Want It That Way’ by the Backstreet Boys.
Oh my gosh, Sanga, yeah. I reckon I may even have some videos on my phone of him singing. He’s the first one to walk into an after-party or a gathering after a game, and he’ll be the last one to walk out, I swear. That’s how I met him, and that’s how he still is today. I love that guy – he’s such a good bloke.
Yeah, he just announced his final retirement last week – the third Test against India – which is in a short while, so the cricket world will be bidding farewell to Sangakkara. Just looking forward to the future Dale – what do you think about your own life after cricket? Have you given that much thought about what you’d like to do afterwards?
Not really. I’ve got my same core group of friends that I had when I was growing up, have grown up along me and developed their own skills that we all kind did when we were younger. So my one friend that we all skateboarded with and everything like that ironically ended up becoming a professional photographer. So back then, we had no-one to take photos of me; the bastard grew up to become a professional photographer. I was like, ‘you were hiding out on me the whole time’. And another friend of mine is actually a really good bass fisherman, and we grew up fishing together and skateboarding and stuff like that. So I don’t know – I think I might want to link forces with these guys, maybe do something like photographic tour safaris (I love dabbling behind the lens of my camera) and maybe something like that for a while until I figure out actually what I want to do. Maybe go on fishing expeditions and stuff like that with my friend and we’d take people around the world, and we’d kind of do maybe three or four of that kind of stuff a year or whatever. But I just ultimately want to have fun. I cannot sit still; I have ants in my pants. I suffer massive “FOMO” – I hate missing out on stuff; whether I’m sick or 100%, I’m going to be there. So maybe something along those lines, eh? Like just trying to develop my photoghraphy skills a little bit more, catch onto my fishing, take my fishing to another level, and then try and link those two together. Maybe somehow I will also stay involved in sport – I think it’s important that I stay involved in cricket for a little bit. I couldn’t have played this game for as long as I have without trying to help someone get to where I’ve got. I’ve got some answers maybe for somebody that has questions, and I might be able to help them in that regard. So it’s probably important that I stay involved in cricket. But other than that, I kind of want to do the things that I enjoy doing and then just see where life takes me. I don’t know. I’m quite a chilled bloke, so I don’t mind anything really.
You’re a chilled bloke until the moment you take a wicket.
Yeah! Cricket – man, you should see me catch a fish. I explode! Fishing and cricket and photography – I probably don’t celebrate as much when I get that great photograph, but it would be really funny if I’m sitting here at home and editing my photos, and start jumping up, going ballistic because I got a good photo. But you put so much into it, the training in cricket and the hours fishing. We were fishing up in the Chobe now – we fished for four days, and this girl I’m busy hanging out with right now – Dunty – she hadn’t caught a fish for four days – we had been fishing this water for four days, and then the morning that we were leaving, we went out for two hours and about forty minutes in, bang she was on! And she caught the biggest tiger fish, the biggest tiger of the four day trip that we were there for. And started crying. And I was like, ‘yes! You see that’s what I’s all about, right there. That is what it’s all about: 8 to 10 hours of fishing every single day, no fish, and last morning, bang and you’re on’. And it’s the same thing with cricket; I train my arse off for hours and hours and hours and hours, and when I get a big player out like Warner, Clarke, Gayle, whatever, that emotion just explodes out of me. I could cry, but I’m not going to. I’m just going to be super pumped. I’ve been like that since I was a kid, so yeah – hopefully that never goes away. I think it’s pretty cool, pretty special, so try and hold onto that a little bit longer.
You mention these guys – Warner, Clarke, Gayle, these cricketers – so right now you’re pretty much established as a hall-of-fame cricketer – who do you think right now going around the world is your nemesis really as a batsman?
Jeez, in my own team, de Villiers. I think he’s the nemesis for anybody. People hate bowling to that guy. For me, I think Warner – Warner’s quite tough. In the beginning, when I started playing against him, I actually got him out a couple of times, and I still get him out a couple of times now, but he’s got this… He’s left-handed, which makes it a little bit more difficult for me to bowl to (I really do enjoy the right handers); I don’t mind left-handers but I do enjoy bowling to a right-hander. It’s just my natural way. So right-handers don’t bother me too much; it’s just the really good left-handed batters. Simon Katich was another guy. He would walk across and then he would stand still, and he would pull, and then he wouldn’t pull, he would duck, and then he would be a good cutter. And he was just of kind that bloke I was like: ‘I don’t know where to bowl to this guy. I don’t know how to get this guy out. I don’t know what to do to this guy; I just hope that he makes a mistake somewhere along the line’. And then in the shorter format, I think someone like Chris Gayle can be really devastating. If he gets hold of you, he can take you apart in one over. Your captain could come to you and say, ‘listen, I want you to bowl two overs at this guy, give me your best opportunity’, and after six balls he’s calling the next guy to warm up. Really good left-handers are tough to bowl to – guys that are at the top of their game.
Just looking at the stats for you bowling to David Warner – do you know how much he averages against you in Tests?
Against me or against the South African side?
Just against you; just against your bowling.
Must be close to 40, I reckon?
He averages 60 against you.
Yeah, ven more, yeah.
And do you know his strike rate against you?
No. Must be close to 100?
So I completely get what you’re saying. I think Katich is probably the best example of the left-hander who kept on moving across his crease and kept on dragging the right-armed bowlers’ line across and across and across until you bowled something too wide. So again, a very underrated batsman. As a final question, you’re quite involved in some charity work – is there anything, especially after you retire from cricket – a special interest that you look forward to championing?
So right now, Castle Lager is still the Test Sponsor and I’m their water ambassador. The big thing for them about water – I’m not going to sell it to you right here – but the thing about Castle is that everyone thinks it’s just a beer, ‘oh, they just make beer and everything like that’ but they do so much behind their beer; there’s a lot of other things that they do. So what they did was they got me involved to try and showcase some of the stuff that people don’t see every single day. Their big thing is water and how they are saving water and everything, so that’s my job. Coincidentally, at the same time, they are also involved in rhinos and, what I mean by coincidentally is that Mark Boucher ended up having the major accident with his eye and Castle jumped onto him and said: ‘Listen, what are you going to do now and are you interested in doing this?’ And Mark has run with the rhinos, and he’s run strong with the rhinos the last couple of years, and I think that’s something that I would like to get into as well. And water is great, but I have a major thing about real nature conservation –the rhinos is a massive thing, especially in South Africa and Africa. I’d love to get involved in that. And I’m involved in a couple of other charities that I keep forgetting about, and I need to be reminded about every now and then. Actually someone asked me the other day, ‘who’s your sponsors?’ and I was like, ‘oh goodness, ok’. And I try and remember who they were; and they’re not many but I’ve just been involved with them for so long that I just keep forgetting.
New Balance must be chuffed right now.
New Balance are over the moon. If I don’t mention them… But yeah – I think anything in nature conservation; that’s kind of where I’d like to get involved, however I can. Boucher’s kind of involved deep there, but I’d love to jump in and help him then. Do whatever I can there.
What a great note to end on. We started off talking about your love of drinking, and we end on you being sponsored by Castle Lager – fantastic.
And I don’t drink anymore – that’s the crazy thing.
Really? You stopped drinking completely?
Well, I shouldn’t say that I don’t drink. I don’t really drink; if people go out for dinner or something like that and they have a glass of wine or a beer, I don’t. The only time I really drink is if I’m going to celebrate something, maybe a Test win, on my birthday… So I’m not against alcohol, I just choose not to drink it all the time. I can go weeks without drinking; it doesn’t bother me. So I’m probably not a real drinker. When I was younger, it was all about trying to get drunk as quickly as possible; that was the coolest thing ever. So if you’re allowed to do that, let’s do that. And then other things started to become more important. I’m not worried about it anymore. And I’m training now, so it’s important that I probably don’t get involved in that for a while, besides my birthday that’s just passed. That was a write-off.
Ok, cool, great. Thanks so much for joining us, Dale.
No, it’s a pleasure, it’s good to see you.