Dale Steyn has retired from all forms of cricket. Although he retired from Test cricket in 2019, this time he has taken his shoes off forever.
This man had such a remarkable career that every phase of it is a story. But this article is not a biography, it’s a view of him and his career from a cricket lover’s perspective.
If we go back to his Test debut, against England in 2004, we see a skinny lad of medium height, bowling aggressive and fast with swing. He bowled Marcus Trescothick and his celebration was overwhelming. Oh, that was the first of many, wasn’t it?
If fast bowling is an art then Steyn is the artist. From the run-up to the follow-through, his bowling was all about beauty.
With a fast, long and smooth run-up, an absolute effortless style of delivery, and a pair of furious eyes, Steyn had all the attributes a pace bowler should have.
We all know how dangerous swing bowlers are but few bowl fast. That Steyn could swing both ways with a high speed made him something special.
When the pitch was rough he used the seam intelligently. Who could forget his bowling against Brad Haddin, when he bowled the Aussie twice in a Test match with beautiful seam-swing bowling? Creating uneven bounce, cutters and yorkers made him a deadly force.
Struggling early in his career, Steyn’s prime started in 2007 and he never looked back. He was a conquerer all over the world – it didn’t matter the country, the pitch or the conditions. Just a small stat to remember, his bowling average away from South Africa is 24.23, while his home average is 21.62.
Playing in Asia as a fast bowler is a nightmare, but he took 92 wickets at an average of 24.11! The really impressive part was that he created seam-swing movement on those dead pitches. His masterclass of taking seven wickets in an innings in Nagpur against India will never be forgetten.
Two recent years picture people may have in their mind about Steyn are the 2015 ODI World Cup semi-final and going past Shaun Pollock as the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket for South Africa.
That 2015 game was probably South Africa’s best chance to win their first World Cup but the final hour’s play against New Zealand and a Grant Elliot masterclass denied them.
Injuries in the latter part of his career has caused it to come to an end.
But Dale Steyn is not a number, not a stat, not a trophy. This man is beauty and myth.
If someone had never seen a fast bowler at work let me choose one from the total history of cricket, with due respect to all other fast bowlers, I would pick Dale Steyn.