There is no prettier sight than watching Dale Steyn in his full flight. What is not to love? The run-up, the release, the position of the seam, the lengths, everything is in perfect sync. His nerve popping celebrations show the intensity and competitiveness he brings to the table.
As a young boy, aspiring to be a fast bowler, I was mesmerized by the way he ran through India in Ahmedabad on the fateful morning in April, 2008. He demolished the famed Indian batting order with his pace and hostility. India was all-out before lunch and a South Africa victory ensued. I haven’t seen anybody running through the much hyped batting order as he did. This was one of the many match winning spells which he produced on a regular basis.
Dale Steyn is the best test bowler of this generation. Period. He is a modern day great who helped South Africa achieve almost everything. He has also spent 2,356 days at the top of the test bowler’s ranking, which is a record, the most by any bowler since World War II.
Injuries plagued him in his latter years though. He was a shoo-in when fit but his body was not allowing him to get on the park. So, with a heavy heart and to prolong his white ball career, he has decided to retire from test cricket.
Comparison of Stats
As we can see from the above stat, in the last 23 matches which he played, his wickets per match reduced to 3.60 as compared to 5.08 which he recorded earlier.
It can also be deduced that the number of overs he bowled reduced significantly as his body couldn’t take the rigours of bowling long spells.
We see from the above stat that Steyn’s potency as shown by his strike rate (No. of ball bowled/ No. of wickets taken) increased in the last 23 matches of his career. Steyn as a bowler did not lose his touch or his ability to take wickets at regular intervals with the old ball as well as the new did not reduce. What happened was that his body couldn’t take the toll of the ever growing injury list. This is what led him to announce retirement from the longer format of the game which he absolutely adored.
Steyn was the fittest of the lot when he started. He once played all of 48 consecutive tests for South Africa a streak that lasted almost six years.
List of injuries which Steyn sustained:
2009- Hamstring strain
2015- Groin strain
2015- Shoulder spasms
2016- Shoulder fracture
2018- Heel injury
Fighting the ever growing injury list, he still was able to become South Africa’s most successful test bowler, surpassing Shaun Pollock. He retired with 439 wickets which he took at a strike rate of 42.3 which is the best by any bowler in the history of test cricket (minimum 200 wickets).
It’s frightening to imagine what Steyn was capable of achieving if not for the injury list which affected the later part of his test career. Still, his aura precedes him. He was a force to be reckoned with and test cricket has lost its greatest proponent with the ball. Dale Steyn, you shall be missed in the purest format of the game.