London, July 7 : South African-born England batsman Kevin Pietersen may have to arm himself effectively, as South African fast bowler Dale Steyn, currently the hottest property in world cricket, has warned that he will be the main target of the Proteas.
The South African cricketing fraternity is of the view that Kev or KP took a backward step by switching his allegiance from South Africa to England, and therefore, must necessarily be made to pay for that "lapse".
Steyn said the South Africans are fed up with countrymen deserting to England believing that offers better opportunities, and are determined to stop this talent drain.
Victory in the four-Test series starting at Lord's on Thursday would be South Africa's first in England since they rejoined international cricket in 1991, post-apartheid, and it would establish them above their opponents in the rankings.
Steyn wants to make Pietersen regret his decision to play for England, the Daily Express reports.
"We've had six series wins out of seven and one draw. We feel our cricket is going somewhere and we want to get the message across that people don't have to leave now. We don't want them running to England," Wisden Cricket quoted Steyn, as saying.
There has been a steady stream of white South African cricketers arriving on the county scene looking to follow Pietersen's lead in qualifying through four years of residency.
Kent fast bowler Ryan McLaren has declared his intention to qualify, as has Somerset's promising wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter and batsman Jacques du Toit of Leicestershire.
South Africa's quota system which promotes non-white players - they currently have a target of four per team - has often been used as a reason for white players claiming to be disillusioned and leaving.
But success in Tests is changing the perception of a national side in decline, and spearheading the revival are two exciting young white bowlers - Steyn and Morne Morkel - plus veteran quickie Makhaya Ntini, who was a pioneer for black players.
Steyn, 23, is the world's No.1 pacer after 78 wickets at just 16 apiece in his past 12 Tests.
The son of a copper miner from the remote north-east of South Africa has come a long way since he turned up for his Test debut against England at Port Elizabeth in 2004 with only one pair of bowling boots.
These days Steyn owns over 30 pairs of boots, which are kept at his plush apartment in Cape Town.
Story first published: Monday, July 7, 2008, 14:20 [IST]
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