DUBAI // As acceptance speeches go, Dale Steyn's effort after winning the International Cricket Council's Test Player of the Year award was refreshingly candid. While Oscar winners tend to gush seemingly forever, thanking the Academy, mum, dad, Auntie Tess and various others, Steyn instead chose to come clean.
"I've got to be honest, I didn't even know about these awards until I landed in South Africa on Friday," admitted the fast bowler after picking up cricket's version of an Oscar at the Westin Hotel, Mina Seyahi. Steyn had been at home in South Africa for barely a week, following the Proteas' tour of England, before jetting in to the UAE to claim his prize. He won the award ahead of the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul of the West Indies, Sri Lanka's captain Mahela Jayawardene, and teammate, Jacques Kallis.
The paceman, 25, has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past 12 months, during which time he has become arguably the most feared fast bowler in the game. "To get this award is an incredible honour," added Steyn. "I have had a pretty decent year, I suppose, but I didn't think about winning this award until the past few days. "I don't really know how I feel. Perhaps tomorrow morning it will have sunk in for me because, obviously, this is a huge award and it's massive for me.
"What I would like to do is maybe turn it into a goal for the future. I would like to win this award again and maybe other awards too so it would be something to aim for." Steyn's South Africa side were only saved from a 5-0 one-day series whitewash against England by rain earlier this month. However, they did beat England in the preceding Test series, and Steyn remains upbeat. "I am really enjoying my cricket at the moment - we have been involved in a few great series recently so I count myself as lucky to be a part of this South Africa team," he said.
"It's a good time for South African cricket, even though we lost four one-day matches in England. "Winning this award makes up a little for that, but I am still going home knowing we were beaten in the one-dayers. "But we have some new faces coming into the one-day side and we are still very positive for the future." South Africa's next assignment is in Australia, for a mouth-watering Test series starting in December.
Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, was also in the city after being named as the captain of the ICC's ODI Team of the Year. He confirmed that the wrist injury, which kept him out of the recent series with Bangladesh, has fully healed. He also refuted the idea that the birth of his baby daughter six weeks ago will have dulled his appetite for the fight when it comes to taking on Steyn and Co. "I hope not," he said. "If it does, then it is probably time for me to give the game away. The competitive nature that all of us have in us is what motivates us to keep going." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org