“Last Name, please…?”

On Wednesday night there was an official welcome function for the England team at a comedy bar in Montecasino – it was a great success and the tourists even laughed heartily when one comedian mentioned how pleasant it must be for half the team to be able to stay with their parents while on tour.

The CSA ladies at the registration table found themselves under pressure at one point with several hundred name tags and table numbers to be dispensed to sponsors and their guests, media and various other dignitaries and VIPs. The Proteas arrived before the England team and while the majority of Graeme Smith’s squad were happy to mingle and chat, one man thought it more appropriate to help the over-worked girls at the entrance.

“Move up,” he told them as he grabbed a chair and carried it behind the table before sitting down. “Last name, please,” he asked a bewildered man in a suit who clearly thought he was being tricked by a very good Dale Steyn lookalike wearing a Proteas casual shirt. It was a comedy club, after all.

A couple of minutes passed and everybody expected Steyn to end the joke but no – he really was going to help until the rush had subsided.
Another ten minutes later and the England team arrived, led by Andrew Strauss who rubbed his eyes in disbelief as he approached the door. “Surname, please,” asked Steyn, barely looking up at the England captain.

“What are you doing here?” queried Strauss, not bothering to suppress the giggle in his voice.

“Working, what does it look like?” replied Steyn, comfortably matching the Strauss grin.

Some people will never change because they are determined not to. Others will never change because they are so embedded in their character and personality, so bound by theirn roots, that change is simply impossible. Steyn, so famously from Phalaborwa, is one of those. He had started the evening by asking management what the dress code for the function was and whether it would “…be OK to wear slops?”

“I’m a farm boy, I can’t help it,” he replied when told that shoes and socks would be more appropriate.

He’s a treasure in more ways than one. The good news for the national team is that he has changed in one way since his debut, against England, five years ago. Whereas once he might have shuddered at the prospect of seriously hurting an opposition batsman, tomorrow he wouldn’t blink at the prospect of drawing on the field blood from the man he so happily shared a joke with off the field.

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