"I want you to go to bed at night and know when you are playing South Africa tomorrow, you have to face me"
This was the attitude Dale Steyn possessed.
A bowler who is one of the greatest to have ever graced the pitch, he seemed malignant from the moment he began his run-up when he bowled and not many batsmen dared to deal with his aggressive lengths.
31st August will be a day to remember as the Proteas announced his retirement, with the biggest names in cricket bidding him a farewell.
Dale Steyn records
# Dale Steyn is the joint-fastest pacer to have taken 400 Test wickets. He was quicker than the likes of Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath, and tied with the great, Richard Hadlee.
# Steyn has 439 Test wickets, the most by a Proteas bowler and the eighth-highest overall.
# Dale was at the top spot in the ICC bowling rankings in Tests for a record 263 weeks between 2008 and 2014. The next best is Muttiah Muralitharan with 214. Steyn's feat was the most in terms of days by a bowler since World War II.
In 2018, he became South Africa's leading wicket-taker in Tests surpassing another South African legend, Shaun Pollock.
Let's have a look at how Steyn Gun commenced his journey in cricket.
Unlike a lot of the fast bowling greats, Steyn did not have the best start to his career. As far as the domestic circuit was concerned, Steyn did not improve when he played for the Northerns (that further merged with the Eastern to form the Titans).
That earned him a call up to play against England but that didn't turn out very fruitful as consequently, Steyn returned to playing for England. Steyn played County Cricket for Essex as well but things didn't pan out well.
However, the 2005/2006 season came as a turning point for him as he performed brilliantly with the Titans, eventually earning him a spot in the national side to play against the Kiwis.
Steyn stunned everyone with a five-wicket haul in his comeback Test at Centurion, concluding the series with 16 wickets.
The Long Road
Now that Steyn had cemented himself into the Test side, he still had a mixed form as far as Test cricket was concerned. He was also a part of the Tests against Sri Lanka when Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara piled up a 624-run partnership.
Dale Steyn redeemed himself after the series and went on to become a bowler who never looked back and kept taking wickets for fun. Steyn's reputation changed into a bowler who could disrupt the top-order of any side and his no-nonsense attitude worked with the tailenders very well as he often cleaned them up without letting them settle. Steyn's 16-year journey saw him pick over 400 wickets.
Let's have a look at Steyn's numbers.
Impressive, isn't it? Steyn's numbers didn't come against the small opponents but he was a bowler who turned in his best against the elite.
As far as Test Cricket is concerned, Steyn's favorite opponents were Australia against whom he took 70 scalps in 15 Tests, the Second being New Zealand by 68, 65 against India. One of the most influential away bowlers, Steyn used to perform with his swing in England and Australia, while his lengths troubled the batsman in Asian countries as well.
In ODIs too, Steyn was at his best against Australia, who at his peak were at their peak, with a team that dominated every tournament, every series they played.
Dale Steyn's partnership with Morne Morkel was also responsible for his dominance as the duo dismantled any batting lineup, making it easier for their batsmen.
Let's see how some of the biggest personalities in cricket wished him luck for the future.
Congratulations on a wonderful career @DaleSteyn62!— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) August 31, 2021
It was always great playing against you.
Hope you enjoy your 2nd innings as much as you enjoyed your 1st. pic.twitter.com/OhhlQEmC7I
From Sachin to Watson to even football clubs and IPL teams, everyone acknowledged the greatness of Dale Steyn.
I have to say, @DaleSteyn62 was consistently the best bowler I faced throughout my career. I feel like he never bowled me a bad ball. Such an fierce competitor on the field, but such a sweet and super kind person off it. Enjoy the fruits of retirement. You deserve it mate. 👊🏼👊🏼 https://t.co/N2qa5KLXLG— Shane Watson (@ShaneRWatson33) August 31, 2021
Chelsea FC wishing Dale Steyn!
Wishing Chelsea supporter and cricketing great @DaleSteyn62 the very best in his retirement! 🏏 https://t.co/LoZmcp33vd pic.twitter.com/tAXZeLHYoh— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 31, 2021
Punjab Kings bidding Steyn a farewell!
Dale hai ki maanta nahi. 💔— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) August 31, 2021
The image says it all. Not only the batters, even the cameraman found it difficult when this bloke steamed in! 🤯
Farewell, champ! Your brilliance on the field will be missed. 🙏🏽#DaleSteyn pic.twitter.com/Xl5bddTRVb
# ICC Test Player of the Year: 2008
# ICC Test Team of the Year: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016.
# ICC ODI Team of the Year: 2011, 2014.
# ICC Test Team of the decade: 2010-2020
# Wisden's Leading Cricketer: 2014
# Wisden Cricketer of the Year: 2013
# South African Cricketer of the Year: 2008
Dale Steyn was one of the rare breeds and we haven't seen a bowler with his attitude since. His retirement seems like the end of an era as it's still unfathomable that a legend of the game won't be featuring for his team and fans from now.
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