Dale Steyn stressed Australia will still present a tough challenge even with their top crop of players not present © AFP
Dale Steyn acknowledged that "it's going to be pretty interesting" how Australian cricket shapes up post the ball-tampering saga in Cape Town earlier this year. After the bans on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, Australia have also lost the services of Darren Lehmann, James Sutherland and the recent casualty being David Peever.
Conscious efforts are being made by Justin Langer and his think tank to change the culture of the team with the emphasis on playing the game within boundaries. "It's going to be interesting to see which direction they go," Steyn said on Friday (November 2). "Every time you play against Australia, you still feel like that culture from years back is going to be hard to crack. They're in your face, an aggressive team, and people want that but you talk about this line - who knows where it is - but there's rules and you've got to play along those rules.
"We've got to grow up with the times, that's just how it is, and behaviour is one of those things that has become very much part of the game. There are strict rules. KG [Kagiso Rabada] has faced harsh criticism and some trouble even within our side."
While there have been growing calls to banish the ban on Smith and Warner considering Australia staggering dismal run, Steyn, understandably, refused to get drawn into the debate. The South Africa pacer, however, stressed the hosts will still present a tough challenge even with their top crop of players not present.
"I'm not the headmaster here," Steyn pointed out. "I don't make the rules and what the punishment is. But we all make mistakes and how each country deals with it is their issue. Those two [Smith and Warner] are always going to test you. You want to be playing against the best. But I can guarantee you when you're running in at Chris Lynn and he's eyeing out deep midwicket, and Aaron Finch who's been scoring runs lately especially for Surrey, it doesn't matter. You've just got to take on who is at the other end, regardless of the name. When we walk out to the middle, it's on.
"Any time South Africa plays against Australia it is always a good spectacle, both teams are highly competitive and do everything that they can to win. I don't think that will change come Sunday. Both teams are coming off a little bit of a step back, Australia haven't had the greatest tour in the UAE and they are trying to re-build themselves. We haven't played much competitive cricket for a long time. We played against Zimbabwe recently, with respect to them, those were tough conditions and we had the better of them in the bowling department and that is why it showed that way. I think it will be evenly matched."
South Africa lost the warm-up clash by four wickets and will take on Australia in Perth on November 4. The three-match ODI series will be followed by a one-off T20I in Queensland on November 17.