Home > Features >

Dale Steyn – South Africa’s go-to man for all seasons

Dale Steyn © Getty Images (File photo)
Dale Steyn has been a symbol of excellence for South Africa © Getty Images (File photo)

Dale Steyn’s rise and rise has arguably been the most important element of South Africa climbing up the ladder in rankings. R Vishal visits his journey. 

Sri Lanka — the land of South Africa’s nightmares. The island nation’s sweltering heat, indefatigable run-gluttons; Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara along with Muttiah Muralitharan’s wizardry had previously brought the team to their knees and a few feet below the ground as well. The sullen, forlorn look on his teammates’ faces did not deter Dale Steyn.

His teammates trembled and shook with bemusement. Some may have silently vowed never to set foot on Sri Lankan airlines, leave alone returning to these parts. The beefy, wide-eyed man of few words from the quaint town of Phalaborwa was made up of stuff only a few of his predecessors had displayed in the game’s history. A large portion of Dennis Lillee’s wickets came at home. His predecessor Allan Donald’s volatility at times took precedence over the job at hand.

Steyn towers above the smattering of former greats  mentioned above and his peers in terms of the sheer size of his task. The full bloom of Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander came many years after Steyn’s career took off. He had to contend with a less than adequate Andre Nel and a waning Makhaya Ntini during his initial years. Wickets though, rained like in the outdoors of Manchester. Like Muralitharan in his pomp, South Africa’s roadmap to the top, too depended on how the pacer blossomed.

Where other pacers resigned to a hammering before a ball was bowled in the run carpets of India, Steyn was up for another one of his ‘you vs you’ battle. Even with the Men in Blue’s constellation of batting superpowers operating at their peak of their powers, the Protea was skittling out his opponents. 26 wickets in five Tests with two five and one ten-wicket haul is an incredible return by a non subcontinent pacer in recent memory.

After the scars of 2006, Steyn stepped into Sri Lanka again fully knowing the magnitude of his task. Steyn had to tick the ‘conquered’ box in the Sri Lanka section. In the ongoing Test match at Galle, he commemorated his 23rd five-wicket haul and his first after turning 31 recently.

While Galle is traditionally a spin friendly wicket, a wily cricketing brain can outsmart the hosts too. James Anderson did it in the recent past and now, Steyn has a five-for in good ol’ Ceylon too. The right-arm pacer is far from finished and well on his way to the 500-mark. The beating he received from AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan in the Indian Premier League (IPL) rudely woke him up from his slumber. With his piercing glare and late swing at pace, he is again sending shivers down the spine of batsmen.

Having cemented his stature as a legend, one wonders what individual feats lie ahead for Steyn. As for the moment, he has firmly planted the pole and hoisted the flag across the globe.

(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad


West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts


Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test


Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs South Zone, final at Delhi Day 4: KL Rahul brings up half-century; South Zone 73/0 after 18 overs

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 3 at Abu Dhabi: Pakistan hold advantage at lunch

Don Bradman dismissed twice on the same day

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Preparations for upcoming World Cup resume as Ind-SL face-off

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: South Zone 62/0 at Tea; need another 239 runs to win

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Asif Iqbal claims Younis Khan’s brilliance should silence the critics

Australia 120/5 at lunch on Day 3 of 2nd Test vs Pakistan

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone all out for 403

Don Bradman dismissed twice on the same day

Virat Kohli’s captaincy opportunities important in context of India’s succession plans

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here