Monday August 5th is a sad day, not only for Proteas fans, but cricket fans the world over, as Dale Steyn announced his retirement from Test Cricket with immediate effect.
While Steyn will still be available for selection in the limited overs format, it is heartbreaking that we will never again see him wear the Test kit, and see him steaming in with the new red ball on the first morning of a Test match.
It is the end of an era.
Others may have more wickets than Steyn, but his expertise of swinging the new ball, and his ability to reverse swing the old ball made him a dangerous opponent, and a smart one too.
His record speaks for itself, but in case you need a reminder…
Steyn’s home average was 21.62, and yes he grew up on bouncy South African wickets, but the skill he possessed and experience he gained, meant his away bowling average was a phenomenal 24.91, and an even better 21.38 in India.
He remains the only Test bowler to take a 5-wicket haul against all 9 Test playing nations, and the bowler with the lowest strike rate of any bowler with more than 200 Test wickets, of 42.3, and was the number 1 Test bowler for 263 weeks.
To put all this in perspective, his closest rival, James Anderson, who many liked to compare Steyn to, has a home bowling average of 23.59 and an away average of 32.54.
There is no comparison.
From his first Test wicket of Marcus Trescothick, and then that delivery to Michael Vaughan, all the way back in 2004, we all knew this kid was special. For 15 years, Steyn led the Proteas bowling attack with passion, pride and extreme pace.
In the modern age of T20 Cricket, Steyn’s dedication to Test Cricket was refreshing.
After he broke his shoulder during the first Test against Australia in November 2016, an injury that to any other player, especially to one that is 33 years old, that would have been career-ending. But not for Steyn, who spent the next 18 months regaining full fitness.
To his amazing credit and dedication, Steyn got back to full fitness and was able to rejoin the Test team in 2018.
The cricketing world said goodbye to a Test bowling legend, who finished his Test career as South Africa’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, with 439 wickets, and one of the best Test bowlers we will ever see.
Thank you Dale Steyn.