Kolkata: Pace bowler Dale Steyn feels he is fortunate enough to be part of a strong South African side which has enabled him to produce his best in the past few years.
"I'm lucky to be part of the South African set-up. They have great work ethics with some outstanding players. Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher, coach Gary Kirsten... They are the legends of the game in South Africa.
"There are also very talented players like Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers. I'm just fortunate to play alongside these great cricketers," Steyn said here.
"I'm part of a great side so you develop a learning attitude. They are all inspirational cricketers."
The 28-year-old who is instrumental for South Africa's rise to the second spot in the Test rankings said there is no shortcut to success. "It took a lot of hard work to reach here. All cliché stuff... But that's the reality. It does not happen overnight. It took me about nine years to reach here. I've played two county seasons (for Essex and Warwickshire) in between... It does not happen fast."
The world's top bowler for last three years, Steyn however sees the ranking as just a number. "I don't think I'm the best player ever yet. There maybe somebody else who is superior to me. It is just a number after all. It does not change much on the field if you are the No. 1 or No.100 bowler. It's just a recognition," Steyn said.
South Africa will be eyeing the number one Test ranking when they tour England for a three-match series this July but Steyn said there was no additional pressure of the series.
"It will be no different from any other series, whether we tour Zimbabwe or England. My job is to win the match for the side. Rankings come later. I will be looking forward to it as any other series," he said.
Talking about the ongoing IPL where his team Deccan Chargers have a tough ask to make the cut from the league stage after five straight losses, Steyn said they were still hopeful.
"There is nothing we can do about it. There may be different logics and a lot of if and buts. But the fact is we have to lift ourselves from here on. There are no two ways about it. That's the reality. We are positive and the atmosphere is good enough for the team to make a winning comeback. We are very hopeful of making the last four," Steyn said.
He further said it's no different in Twenty20 and the bowlers now have become smart enough to contain the batsmen.
"It's cricket after all. The approach here (in a Twenty20) game may vary. But the bowlers are doing a very good job in the game dominated by the batters. They are smart enough now," he said, on the eve of their IPL return leg match against Kolkata Knight Riders here.
With the team struggling for a win, Steyn said they were missing the services of Ishant Sharma, who is in Bangalore-based NCA for rehabilitation after an ankle surgery.
"He is a quality bowler but we have some good guys coming into the side to replace him. We wish him (Ishant) speedy recovery. We do not know how long he will be away. Therefore, we are focusing on the players we have in the team," he said.
Does Ishant's absence mean extra work for him? "Not extra load, but it means more expectations."