For most of his career, Dale Steyn remained at the top of the ICC Test Bowling Rankings. From 2008-14, he remained at the no.1 spot on the Rankings for a record 263 weeks. In fact, Steyn has spent 2356 days at the no.1 position in the ICC Test Bowling Rankings. This is the longest reign at the top of the Bowling Rankings by any bowler since World War II. His record is impeccable and there are cases being made that Dale Steyn is the greatest fast bowler since World War II.

Dale Steyn’s Test Stats read:

Matches: 93, Wickets: 439, Average: 22.95, 5 Wickets in Innings: 26, 10 Wickets in Match: 5, Best – Innings: 7/51 vs India, Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur, 2010., Best – Match: 11/60 vs Pakistan, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, 2013. Economy Rate: 3.25, Strike Rate: 42.39.

Quite an amazing record. In honour of a wonderful career, I have reflected on some of his greatest Test match bowling performances. Here are six brilliant performances from the South African great:

  1. 7/51 vs India, Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur, 2010.

Overs: 16.4, Maidens: 6, Runs: 51, Wickets: 7, Economy Rate: 3.06.

Dale Steyn has a wonderful record in India. From 6 Tests in India he has picked up 26 wickets at an average of 21.38, and an economy rate of 3.46 to his name. His strike rate in India was 37.12. He has taken 2 5fers and 1 10-wicket match haul in India. In the Nagpur Test of the 2010 Test series between South Africa and India, Steyn produced one of the greatest spells by a bowler in Asian conditions.

Using pace, reverse-swing and seam movement, Steyn removed three of the Indian top five. The wicket to remove Murali Vijay (4) was a beauty as he set Vijay up well. He set Vijay up with two deliveries that went away from him and then got one ball to move off the seam back into him. Vijay left the ball, and it hit the stumps. Steyn then dismissed Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar (7) nicked ball a ball that went away from his body to wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher. Ashwell Prince caught debutant, Subramaniam Badrinath (56) to give Steyn his 3rd wicket.

Steyn came back later in the innings to clean up the tail. His last 5 wickets came in 3 overs and only went for three runs. Steyn bowled Wriddhiman Saha (0) and had Harbhajan Singh (8) trapped in front. He then bowled Zaheer Khan (0) and Amit Mishra (0) to bowl India out for 233 in 64.4 overs. India lost their last 6 wickets for only 12 runs. Steyn had his 13th Test 5-wicket haul.  South Africa enforced the follow-on.  

Steyn ended up with match figures of 10/108 off 34.5 overs with 7 maidens to his name. This was his 4th Test 10-wicket match haul. South Africa won the match by an innings and 6 runs. However, South Africa lost the last Test at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, and ended up drawing the series, 1-1 with India.

  • 6/8 vs Pakistan, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, 2013.

Overs: 8.1, Maidens: 6, Runs: 8, Wickets: 6, Economy Rate: 0.97. 39 dot balls

Pakistan had no answer to Dale Steyn, as he tore their batting line-up apart in the 1st Test. Mohammad Hafeez (2) nicked a full and wide delivery to wicketkeeper, AB de Villiers, after a 10-ball spell where Steyn pinned Hafeez on the crease.

Steyn bowled Nasir Jamshed (2) with an inswinger. Graeme Smith caught Younis Khan (0) in the slips. AB de Villiers caught Saeed Ajmal (1) and Sarfaraz Ahmed (2). Faf du Plessis caught Rahat Ali (0) to give Steyn 6 wickets for the innings. Steyn ended up with his 20th Test 5-wicket haul and finished the Test match with his 5th Test 10-wicket haul. Steyn tormented the Pakistanis with accuracy, pace, swing and bounce. Pakistan collapsed and never recovered in the Test match.

South Africa bowled Pakistan out for 49 in 29.1 overs. The home side hammered Pakistan by 211 runs. Steyn picked up his best match figures of 11/60 after 36.5 overs, with 16 maidens. South Africa won the remaining two Tests at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, and SuperSport Park, Centurion. They swept the Pakistanis, 3-0 in the 3-match Test series. 

  • 5/67 vs Australia, MCG, Melbourne, 2008.

Overs: 20.2, Maidens: 3 Runs: 67, Wickets: 5, Economy rate: 3.46.

                  In a man of the match performance at the MCG in 2008, Dale Steyn was at his best. He picked up 5/87 off 29 overs with 6 maidens to his name in the first innings. However, his 2nd innings performance was the key to South Africa winning their first Test series in Australia. South        Africa became the first team to beat Australia in Australia since the West Indies in 1992-93

                  Steyn dismissed Matthew Hayden (23), who hit the ball straight to JP Duminy at short extra-  cover. The in-form, Simon Katich (15) went after a loose ball from Dale Steyn and edged behind to wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher.

                  Steyn broke the 96-run partnership between Ricky Ponting (99) and Michael Clarke (29) for the 4th wicket. Michael Clarke hit a short and wide delivery straight to Neil McKenzie at the cover. Steyn pitched the ball up to Andrew Symonds. He got some away swing and Symonds (0) edged the ball to Kallis at 2nd slip. Steyn came back and dismissed the final batsman, Peter Siddle (6) with a good length delivery that had a little extra bounce off the pitch. Boucher took the catch off a faint edge from Siddle and Steyn had his 2nd 5-wicket haul of the match and a 10-wicket match haul. This was his 11th Test 5-wicket haul and his 3rd 10-wicket match-haul. South Africa won the match chasing down 183 in 48 overs with 9 wickets to spare to take an unassailable 2-0 series lead in the Test series.

  • 6/49 vs New Zealand, SuperSport Park, Centurion, 2007.

Overs: 10.3, Maidens: 1, Runs: 49, Wickets: 6, Economy Rate: 4.67.

In 2007, Dale Steyn showed glimpses of what he would become as he annihilated the hapless Kiwis. He picked up 20 wickets in 2 Tests at an average of under 10.

In the second innings of the 2nd Test at SuperSport Park, Centurion, Steyn kept picking up wickets at regular intervals.

Steyn dismissed Lou Vincent (4) out lbw. Replays showed the ball would have missed the stumps. He then trapped Michael Papps (1) plumb in front with a delivery that a hint of swing and came back into Papps. Steyn then got the big wicket of Stephen Fleming (54) lbw with a delivery that swung back into him and moved back into him. Replays showed that the ball pitched outside leg-stump. Graeme Smith caught Brendon McCullum (21) at 2nd slip. The ball swung away from McCullum and he edged it straight to Smith at 1st slip. Steyn bowled a full delivery that shaped away from Mark Gillespie (0). Gillespie nicked the ball to Kallis at 2nd slip. Iain O’Brien (0) got bowled with an absolute peach of a delivery that swung away and straightened to uproot middle-stump out of the ground. Steyn got his 6th Test 5-wicket haul and his 2nd 10-wicket match haul in Tests.

South Africa wrapped the match up inside 3 days as they bowled the Kiwis out for 136 in 34.3 overs. South Africa won the match by an innings and 59 runs and whitewashed the Kiwis, 2-0 in the 2 Match Test-Series.

  • 5/54 vs Sri Lanka, Galle, international Stadium, 2014.

Overs: 23, Maidens: 8, Runs: 54, Wickets: 5, Economy Rate: 2.35.

South Africa won only their 3rd Test on Sri Lankan soil. Their pace attack was one reason for the historic victory. Dale Steyn ripped through the Sri Lankan batting line-up on a flat Galle pitch.

Vernon Philander caught Kaushal Silva (8) after Steyn bowled a well-directed bouncer. Steyn trapped Mahela Jayawardene (3) lbw, with a ripping inswinger. 

Quinton de Kock caught Lahiru Thirimanne (38) to give Steyn his 3rd wicket. Dinesh Chandimal (6) attempted a full-blooded hook, but he mistimed the ball and the ball went to Alviro Petersen. Quinton de Kock caught Dilruwan Perera (0) to give Steyn his 5th wicket and his 23rd 5-wicket haul in Tests. Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne resisted the South African pace attack. However, Steyn came back after Tea with a brilliant spell of fast bowling. He bowled 5 overs, 3 maidens, conceded 8 runs, and picked up 3 wickets.

Steyn helped his side seal the match with match figures of 9/99, which is the second best match figures in Sri Lanka behind Sir Richard Hadlee, by a Non-Asian fast bowler. South Africa won the test by 153 runs and drew the last Test. The visitors won the series 1-0.

  • 6/34 vs West Indies, SuperSport, Park, Centurion, 2014.

Overs: 8.2, Maidens: 2, Runs: 34, Wickets: 6, Economy Rate: 4.08.

                  Fighting cramps, Dale Steyn came back in the 2nd innings to complete a South African demolition job on the West Indies. Steyn bowled a full length for around two overs to Leon Johnson. He then pegged the length back and forced an error from Johnson (39) who nicked behind to AB de Villiers. Steyn bowled full for two overs to Shivnarine Chanderpaul and then bowled a short ball that Chanderpaul (4) gloved behind to AB de Villiers. Dale Steyn bowled a vicious delivery to Marlon Samuels (17) that led to a leading edge that went straight to Dean Elgar at the cover. Steyn then bowled a delivery that hit the shoulder of Denesh Ramdin’s (4) bat and went to a diving AB de Villiers. Hashim Amla caught a regulation catch at 1st slip to dismiss Jerome Taylor (9). Sheldon Cottrell (4) was the last man to go as Kyle Abbott caught him off a leading edge. Steyn got his 25th Test-match 5-wicket haul as the West Indies lost the game by an innings and 220 runs. South Africa bowled the West Indies out for 131 in 42.1 overs after following on. They went from 2/87 after 32 overs to 131 all out after 42.1 overs, i.e., 8/44 in 10.1 overs. South Africa won the 3rd test at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, and won the series 2-0.

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