After watching Neil Wagner flay his bat around for a brief cameo, South Africa’s spearhead Dale Steyn has questioned the New Zealand bowler’s courage and intentions during the second Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
Speaking to reporters at the end of day three, the 33-year old however gave a thumbs-up to Wagner‘s short-pitched ploy by admitting to being impressed by his whole-hearted effort.
On the Kiwi's style of batting, Steyn claimed, “He backed away and slogged his way – maybe didn't back away but stood and played the pull shot. But if he wanted to be more courageous and brave, he would have been 30 off 90 and watched his captain get to 100 rather than (score) 31 and walk off the pitch and saying ‘I've done my job’. That's not your job.”
He elaborated, “He does take it on, he does play the shots. He’s a brave cricketer, he gives it all, he’s an all-heart kind of cricket player. But if you ask me, I would have tried to hang out there and even score 10 of 50 balls and see Kane through to 100 rather than walk off with 30 and think I've done my job. But in saying that’s he’s done well, he’s played well.”
Arriving into the crease with New Zealand at 169/8 in response to the home team’s 481/8, Wagner did not mind playing his shots and managed a 30-ball 31 instead of looking to support skipper Kane Williamson who stood firm at the other end.
Having expressed his disapproval on the 30-year old’s tactics, Steyn heaped praises on the left-armer's effort with the ball. Interestingly, Wagner was born in South Africa and later moved to New Zealand to ply his trade. Rapidly becoming a pivotal part of the Blackcaps side, he displayed his credentials yet again with a five-wicket haul in the first innings.
Steyn quipped, “He's at that pace where you always feel there's a chance you can take him on, but he is a lot skiddier than you think he is and he's got good skill. He gets his bouncer really high, he doesn't bowl chest high which is an easy height, he hits the head.
“So you feel like you can take him on but there's always the risk of when you hit the bouncer, you might hit it in the air with the chance you might get caught. He makes it difficult for the batters to play.”