Why is Dale Steyn considered one of the greatest? THIS record in Asia will blow you away

Dale Steyn, who announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, is considered as one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the game and his record everywhere is simply awesome.

Dale Steyn has taken 70 wickets in the decade which he played. (Image credit: Twitter)
By Siddharth vishwanathan | Sep 1, 2021 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Tuesday was a sad day in cricket as Dale Steyn, considered as one of the greatest bowlers in the world, announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. Steyn, who redefined raw pace and swing in the modern era, ended as the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in Tests. The right-arm pacer ended with 439 wickets from 93 Tests and in total, he has taken 699 wickets. His Test bowling average of 22.95 is one of the greatest in the current period, with 26 five-wicket hauls and five 10-wicket hauls.

There have been comparisons as to who is the best bowler in cricket. The current debate is on Dale Steyn vs James Anderson. While Anderson is the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket with over 630 wickets, Steyn has achieved success all over the globe. Anderson has often been pigeon-holed as a bowler who can only take wickets on green, seaming wickets. Elsewhere, his tally goes down. That is not the case with Steyn, according to fans. But, both Steyn and Anderson have expressed their respect for each other, with each calling the other ‘legendary’.

Dale Steyn the key in South Africa’s dominance

The fact that Steyn has had tremendous success all over the globe is a testament to his brilliance. When it comes to delivering success for South Africa in the period in which the side became the No.1 ranked team in the world, Steyn played a major part. For close to eight years, South Africa did not lose a single series anywhere in the globe. Steyn is the major factor in this.

In 2008, South Africa broke their jinx of not having won a series in Australia thanks to Steyn. During the Melbourne Test, Steyn took 10 wickets and hit a fifty to give South Africa a historic win. When it comes to performances in England, Steyn has also played a major role both in 2008 and 2012, getting wickets at vital times. During the period of dominance for South Africa, Steyn averaged in the range of 17 to 29. His best period was 2008, in which he took 74 wickets at an average of 20. The year 2010 and 2013 were the other years in which he took 60 and 51 wickets respectively with an average of 21 and 17.

But, it is in one aspect that Steyn becomes the best bowler in the world. It is his dominance in Asia that puts him on a different pedestal altogether

Dale Steyn edges Anderson out in THIS aspect

The sub-continent is traditionally considered a graveyard for fast bowlers. The dusty nature of the wickets has meant that spin bowlers have always dominated. The likes of Anil Kumble, Muttiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath, and Ravichandran Ashwin have dominated the bowling dynamics in the sub-continent. A fast bowler making an impact in that part of the world is considered next to impossible. But, Steyn has achieved tremendous success there.

If one looks at South Africa’s two wins in 2008 and 2010 in India, it was in part thanks to the magnificent performance by Steyn. In Ahmedabad, he took five wickets to bowl India out for 76. This laid the platform for their dominance. During the 2010 Nagpur Test, Steyn put in an exhibition of reverse swing bowling that stunned fans and critics alike. His haul of 7/51 and 10 in the match showed his true greatness.

Not just in India, but he did it even in Sri Lanka. In 2014, during the Galle Test, South Africa breached Sri Lanka’s fortress and he took nine wickets to give South Africa victory after 14 years in Sri Lanka. They won a series after 21 years all thanks to Steyn.

PlayerMatchesWicketsAverageStrike-RateFive-wkt haulTen-wkt haul
Dale Steyn167025.0843.351
Saeed Ajmal146632.8776.730
James Anderson195928.5564.810
Graeme Swann115726.1754.931
Monty Panesar145236.1381.141
Junaid Khan135029.0458.650
Nathan Lyon114242.5769.420
Morne Morkel144129.2461.110
Mitchell Johnson143643.0282.310
Rangana Herath93540.1784.920
Dale Steyn tops the bowlers for a decade in the sub-continent.

If one looks at the decade from 2006 to 2016, Steyn has been one of the greatest bowlers in the sub-continent, outbowling Saeed Ajmal, Nathan Lyon, Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and Rangana Herath. James Anderson took 59 wickets in that time. But, it is in the average where Steyn dominates everyone. His average of 25.08 is the best for any bowler who has played more than 10 Tests in that decade in the sub-continent. The next best is Graeme Swann with 26.

The greatness of Steyn

That intimidating run-up, the high-quality swing and the pace generated, the roar and anger in the celebrations made Steyn one of the greatest sights in world cricket. When he was on song, there was no better viewing experience than the bowler from Phalaborwa. The injuries that plagued Steyn towards the latter end of his career were sad as he was well on course to go past 500 or even 550 wickets at that time.

Anderson might gain plaudits due to the sheer longevity of his career. No one can take that away from him. But, it is the brilliance of Steyn that will be endearing memory for many cricket fans. Steyn, in a short spell, modified his pace but never compromised on the ability to swing. It was just a shame that his body did not support him. But, when he was at the peak of his powers, he played 48 Tests and did not miss many games for South Africa.

The retirement of Steyn ends a massive chapter in world cricket when it came to South Africa pace bowling. The next generation of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi have benefited greatly from watching Dale Steyn at close works. Cricket has bid farewell to the ultimate swing and pace maestro. Thank you for the cricket memories, Dale Steyn.

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