A gemstone unearthed from South Africa’s endless quarry of fast bowlers, Dale Steyn took the legacy of Allan Donald and Makhaya Ntini higher, way higher, to towering heights as he ruled fast bowling throughout the decade gone by.
Steyn’s USP lies in is his ability to swing his deliveries prodigiously at a breathtaking pace, getting movement from both the red and white ball during his golden period from 2008-2014, where he remained the undisputed No.1 Test bowler in the world.
Dale Steyn’s career as a fast bowler can be divided distinctively into 2 phases, the pre-2013 era and the post 2013 era.
Before 2013, the presence of a bowler of Steyn’s repetoire was enough to send shivers down an opponent’s spine. He generated swing both ways and opening batsmen made detailed plans to face Steyn first and then decide about the rest. Combined with Morne Morkel’s contrasting hit-the-deck approach, it was almost impossible for even the best batsmen to prepare for a set approach to deal with their combined threat.
Post 2013, it was altogether different. Steyn was not a guaranteed starter for the South Africans, mostly due to injuries or loss of form. Combined with the emergence of a new generation of bowlers like Vernon Philander, Steyn had to fight for a place in the One-day side as well as the Test side.
A look back to one of his best bowling performances in test cricket.
7 for 51 vs India in 2010
South Africa followed the perfect blue print to register a win in Indian soil. They batted first, put up a huge score and then allowed their bowlers to run havoc. They put up 558 on the board, and the Indian line-up that had two debutants in the form of Subramaniam Badrinath and Wriddhiman Saha struggled against the Saffers. Initially he picked up the wickets of Murali Vijay and Sachin Tendulkar and then came back to take Badrinath’s wicket at the right time. The Indian batsmen couldn’t handle his reverse swing bowled at a serious pace, and from there he just cleaned up the tail completely to finish with seven wickets. South Africa registered an innings victory.
Ten wicket haul vs. Australia in 2008
It was a fantastic Test to remember for the speedster as he picked up a five-wicket haul in each innings of the Test, and his efforts bore fruit as South Africa went on to win the Test by 9 wickets. He had the crucial wickets of Michael Hussey and Simon Katich in the first innings and then dismissed Matthew Hayden, Katich (again), Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke and Peter Siddle in the second to finish with a match haul of 10 for 154.
6 for 8 vs Pakistan in 2014
Pakistan would have been happy to restrict South Africa to just 253 runs in the first innings. But they wouldn’t have expected Steyn to blow them away for a paltry 49 in return. He swung the ball viciously and picked up six wickets conceding just 8 runs. He didn’t stop there as he picked up five more wickets to finish with career best figures of 11 for 60 and thus winning the Man-of-the-Match award.
Dale Steyn brought down the curtain on one of the great fast bowling Test careers of the modern era when he announced his retirement from red-ball cricket with immediate effect. A lightning fast Steyn might have been lost forever, but a fit-again and craftier version featuring for South Africa can be hoped for.
Thank you for creating some enthralling memories in the best format of cricket.