Coronavirus outbreak | Dale Steyn: Pity everything is blocked off

Updated: 20 March, 2020 08:04 IST | PTI | Johannesburg

Pacer Dale Steyn says there's nothing to fall back on with sport coming to a standstill in a country like South Africa where people look for avenues to unite in big groups.

Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn

Chilling at home after coming back from a coronavirus-forced "hotel arrest" in Pakistan, South African pacer Dale Steyn feels it's a pity that sporting events are being cancelled en masse due to the crisis as "if you take sport away, then I don't know really what we have." Steyn, who returned from Pakistan due to the virus outbreak, said it's indescribable how the situation changed in a matter of hours. He was playing for Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League which was suspended on the day of its semifinal clashes.

"It is actually such a pity that everything is being blocked off, because in a country like South Africa, where we have all of our problems from the past - culture, religion, ethnic backgrounds - the one thing that brings everybody together is sport," Steyn told 'ESPNCricinfo'. "But now at the moment, you don't have that. In South Africa, we kind of like looking for things that unite people in big, big groups. When you don't have sport, it's like, oh, what do we fall back onto?

"And I think Nelson Mandela was the first person to really say that: sport unites people in a way that nothing else does. And if you take sport away, then I don't know really what we have. We're gonna have to work it all out." Major events such as the Euro and Copa America football, French Open tennis and Formula One races have been postponed due to the health emergency gripping the world.

Despite the panic all around, Steyn said he has avoided stockpiling essentials like many others as it's unfair to do so in a crisis. "It just seems like it is the only topic of conversation. Any WhatsApp groups that I'm part of, it's really tough to escape. Normally if I am on holiday I'll be planning a fishing trip or a surfing trip. At the moment I am just chilling at home," Steyn said.

"We were under that kind of hotel arrest - advised not to go out and wander the streets, which is totally fine; I don't want to break protocol and (have) something happen and be blamed for cricket never being played in Pakistan again because I did something stupid." The COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to more than 8,000 deaths globally, has raised fears that markets maybe shut in coming days and households may run out of essentials but hoarding is not an option for Steyn.

"We just decided that stockpiling is definitely not the way to go. It is not fair on everybody who needs that stuff. I went to the grocery store the other day and everyone had bought all the toilet paper," he said. "We have what we need, and when that runs out, that runs out, and we need to go and get some more. We didn't feel it was necessary to go and absolutely just, like, zombie our lives up.

"There's other people that live on a day-to-day basis. They are not going to get all of that stuff, so we thought it was best not to do that," Steyn who is living with his mother and his girlfriend, added. If he were to watch a match or two from the past on video while he is stuck at home, which would that be? "I would probably say that they should put every World Cup up until '99 on. So 1992, '96, '99 - I love those World Cups," he said.

"And even the one in South Africa (2003) because that's when I really started to get into guys like Brett Lee, because I knew the possibility of me playing against them or meeting them was so much closer than what it was in, say, '92, when I first got introduced to the game."

Asked which team-mates he would to be quarantined with, Steyn said, " I would love to be in quarantine with someone like Quinny de Kock." "He is one of my favourite people in the world. If you walk into his (hotel) room, he's either making flies for fishing or he is watching a fishing video or he is watching a cooking video. And when you are at his house, he's doing the same stuff.

"I hate cooking, so it would be great if he was. Because then I could watch all the fishing videos that he's watching, I could help him do all the tying, and he could cook all the food. He's a proper cook," he added.

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First Published: 20 March, 2020 07:21 IST

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