Tearing in relentlessly, eyes popping, veins bulging, stumps splattering…
Recency bias can often be misleading, but in case of Dale Steyn, there’s no denying the fact that he’s not just a modern-day beast, but rightly belongs in the elite list of all-time greats.
Steyn has played the game with the same unbridled enthusiasm, and maybe a touch of lunacy, ever since, running through brick walls for his country for the best part of two decades.
The essence of his bowling lied in his celebrations. The fist pumps and the chainsaw he pulled out after dismissing Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan on his Test debut was just a trailer. In the upcoming years, his veins popped out from his neck, the crazy eyes gave an impression of him being possessed. Looking into his eyes after being dismissed was the worst thing a batsman could do to himself. Sometimes, he just yawned after picking up a wicket.
For 485 weeks between 2006 and 2015, South Africa did not lose an away Test series. Dale Steyn was unrivaled at the top of the ICC bowling rankings for almost 330 weeks (over 6 years) showing his influence on South Africa’s rise as a Test nation. The golden run involved a number of memorable spells. 7 for 51 on a typical flat Nagpur track. Match figures of 9 for 99 in Galle leading Proteas to their first Test series win in Sri Lanka. No other non-Asian fast bowler has picked more scalps than him in Asia (92). Dale Steyn aced the toughest of bowling conditions for a fast bowler.
Being a human battering ram eventually took its toll and Steyn retired from Test cricket in August 2019, at the age of 36, after taking 439 wickets in 93 matches, his reputation as the greatest fast bowler of the modern era secured. Where he ranks among the all-time greats is open to debate but his strike rate of 42.3 is the best of any player in the history of the game to take 200 wickets – all the more impressive when you consider he was at his peak when genuine quicks appeared to be a dying breed. He was a chance for the current crop of cricket fans who could not witness the Lillees, the Akrams, the Holdings to watch a complete fast bowler in action.
93 TESTS, 439 WICKETS, 23 RUNS PER WICKET AND APPROXIMATELY A WICKET EVERY 7TH OVER
Steyn truly deserves to be in the pantheon of all-time great fast bowlers for his stupendous achievements in all conditions and in different parts of the world. We have seen special things on a cricket field and witnessing Dale Steyn bowling in Test cricket was right up there.