Dale Steyn says he knew almost instantly Jofra Archer would develop into a world-class fast bowler as he backed England to find a formula to get the best out of the 24-year-old.
Archer was set to return to England’s ranks for the three Twenty20 internationals against South Africa this week, the first of which is in East London on Wednesday, but he is absent because of a low grade stress fracture in his right elbow.
The injury, which meant he missed the last three Tests against the Proteas, led to scrutiny on his workload, with Archer bowling more overs than any of his England team-mates last year despite only making his debut last May.
“It’s a pity about his elbow; that’s fast bowling, you will get an injury every now and then,” Steyn said.
“He is still learning and has to bowl enough to get his body strong. But the most important thing is people want to see him on the park. You have to keep him on the park and they have to work out how to do that.
“Everyone is different and they have to work out something for him. He is fresh and new into the system and it will take the odd injury to work it out but they will get there.”
Steyn revealed his friendship with the brother of former Sussex coach Mark Davis meant he saw Archer early into his development.
“He is phenomenal, he is great,” Steyn added. “Fast bowling is not an easy thing to do. He makes it look so easy.
“A couple of years ago (Davis) told me that I had to watch this guy because he is amazing. I saw him bowl two balls in the county circuit and I said ‘this guy is going to be great’. World Cup winner already – the rest is history.”
Steyn is set to make his first international appearance in nearly a year at Buffalo Park following a longstanding shoulder problem that led to him missing last summer’s World Cup.
Last year, he ended a Test career that saw him collect a South Africa record 439 wickets at an average of 22.95, numbers which place him among the all-time greats but he retains an appetite for the limited-overs formats.
He admitted tinkering with his usual routine in South Africa’s domestic T20 competition at the back end of last year, when he was the third leading wicket-taker, and plans to continue in that manner.
“I decided to play a little bit more of a braver brand of cricket, I tried one or two different things that I wouldn’t necessarily do and I used that as a nice time to experiment and it worked out quite nicely,” Steyn said.
“Every game there was a bonus because I didn’t think I would be playing, so now I’m here I want to continue in that vein and just keep experimenting. If I’m going to play one more game I’m going to try to take a wicket every ball.”
Steyn was coy about how long he plans to continue playing, saying he’ll take stock after this year’s T20 World Cup.
But when asked whether it was difficult to accept his career coming to a close, Steyn added: “I’m really excited about it, there are a lot of exciting things over the horizon after cricket.”
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