Breaking down Steyn’s future after another body breakdown

Saurabh Roar Pro

By Saurabh, Saurabh is a Roar Pro

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    The first Test between India and South Africa wasn’t just about the battle between the number one and number two ranked Test teams in the world; it marked the return of two of South African cricket’s most senior pros in AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn.

    Most attention was on Steyn, who was returning from injury. Wile de Villiers had been playing in shorter formats of the game and made his Test comeback by captaining the South African team against Zimbabwe in the four-day day-night Test, it was Steyn’s first match in a year.

    The rhythm, run up and throwing arm all seemed to be doing well. In fact it was Steyn who got the aggressive Shikhar Dhawan to a short pitch ball and then picked up wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha for zero. His two wickets for 51 runs took him past Harbhajan Singh’s wicket tally of 417 but was still two wickets short of Shaun Pollock’s 421 Test wickets.

    Unfortuantely for Steyn, landing awkwardly on his heel meant another six weeks of rehabilitation, something he has been doing more of in the last two years than steaming in on the pitch to the batsman.

    Steyn has a long history of injury. He missed most of the 2015 Test series against India, playing only one match. South Africa lost that series 3-0. He later made a comeback against England and picked up four wickets in the first innings before injury again ruled him out of reminder of the series. South Africa lost that series 2-1 and surrendered the top ranking in Test cricket.

    It’s no secret that Dale Steyn’s 263 consecutive Tests as number one Test bowler coincided with South Africa’s number one ranking in Test cricket. During that stretch South Africa won matches both home and away, beating England, New Zealand, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Australia.

    (AFP Photo / Alexander Joe)

    Steyn played a crucial role in many of those victories, including his 7/51 against India in Nagpur, 10/154 against Australia in Melbourne, 6/8 against Pakistan at home and his defence of seven runs in the final over against New Zealand in the 2014 world cup.

    The veteran of 86 Tests, whose strike rate is shaded only by that of England’s George Lohmann, has probably achieved all he could in his Test career. He would be eager to make a comeback in a limited-overs side to have a crack at the 2019 World Cup for one last time, but after a decade of international cricket and on the wrong side of 30 his time is running out.

    But in the last three years Steyn has shown he has the ability to rise again after being down, so it should come as no surprise if he’s back on the cricketing field again. His tremendous willpower has made him stand out among his peers. There haven’t been many who can say they had a career as long as Steyn or have remained injury free as much as he did between 2008 and 2014 under the same workload.

    Brett Lee, Mitch Johnson, Shoaib Akhtar and Shane Bond all had their fair share of injuries, resulting in faltering performances in their last few years of international cricket, but Steyn’s Test performances are still as good as in his peak years. He shouldn’t be rushing quickly from injury into action. Once he is fully fit his performance is no real issue. The wickets will come.

    Last year against Australia his remark that David Warner was the head of the Australian snake showed that he’s still up for the challenge and was keen to complete the hat-trick of wins against Australia in Australia.

    (AFP Photo / Alexander Joe)

    In fact in the first Test before getting injured, when Shaun Marsh and David Warner pairing scored a century and were closing in on South Africa’s modest total of 230, it was Steyn who removed Warner for his first ever ninety in Test cricket, which started the Australian collapse and eventually won South Africa the series 2-1.

    He was sorely missed in England, where South Africa lost 3-1. Steyn could have maintained the pressure at one end when bowlers like Duanne Olivier and Chris Morris failed to do so.

    Steyn is crucial for South Africa’s success in next few months. If they win against India and Australia, they stand a chance of regaining the number one Test cricket ranking, and looking to next year, they’ll need their leader of attack to be fully fit for the 2019 World Cup.

    The ICC Trophy is the only thing missing from Steyn’s long and illustrious career. Whether or not he gets past Shaun Pollock’s wicket tally he will still be remembered as the best bowler produced by South Africa, as decided by Pollock himself.

    So if his body isn’t able to take the workload of Test cricket anymore, the Test series against arch-rivals Australia could be his perfect swansong. He could focus more on ODI cricket with the 2019 World Cup in sight.

    But whatever happens from here, the sight of Steyn steaming and scaring the hell out of a batsmen will never fade away from the cricket lover’s mind.

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • January 12th 2018 @ 4:06pm
      marfu said | January 12th 2018 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

      All hail the great Dale!

      • Roar Pro

        January 12th 2018 @ 8:24pm
        Saurabh said | January 12th 2018 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

        Marfu well said.My favourite bowler of this Generation.A complete bowler.

    • January 12th 2018 @ 9:44pm
      Doctor Rotcod said | January 12th 2018 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

      I’m not sure that he was the No 1 Test bowler for his own 263 consecutive Tests though!
      Was that while 263 Tests were played worldwide?

      • Roar Pro

        January 13th 2018 @ 8:25pm
        Saurabh said | January 13th 2018 @ 8:25pm | ! Report

        Yes doctor ,that is 263 test match played throughout when Steyn was no.1 test ranked bowler

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