Dale Steyn: A genuine match-winner and game-changer

For bowlers who have taken over 300 Test wickets, Dale Steyn (right) has the best strike-rate © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

With scorching pace, copious movement and the burning fire to succeed, Dale Steyn has risen to become the best paceman in contemporary cricket. The South African has been a consistent performer for a number of years and has been a vital cog in their surge to the No 1 spot in the Test rankings.

Steyn in full flow is a sight to watch and one even the best batsmen would fear.

During the first Test against New Zealand at Cape Town, Steyn picked up his 300th Test wicket. He is the fifth fastest to the milestone, having completed it in 61 matches, and the fastest South African, beating the likes of Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini.

For bowlers who have taken over 300 Test wickets, Steyn has the best strike-rate. Here are the records:

Bowler M Wkts Avg SR
Dale Steyn 62* 309 23.48 41.9
Waqar Younis 87 373 23.56 43.4
Malcolm Marshall 81 376 20.94 46.7
Allan Donald 72 330 22.25 47.0
Fred Trueman 67 307 21.57  49.4

(Qualification: 300 or more Test wickets)
*game in progress

In this list, Steyn is ahead of greats such as Waqar Younis, Malcolm Marshall, Donald and Fred Trueman. An average of 23.48 is simply brilliant. When compared to other bowlers, Steyn has played his cricket when batting is on the ascendancy. While the rules in Test cricket may not have changed, modern batsmen are at an advantage compared to the bygone days. Yet, Steyn continues to prove his mettle time and again.

To know where he stands amongst some of the greatest fast bowlers, one must compare their stats at a similar stage. Steyn is currently playing his 62nd Test. Let us see their record after 62 Test matches.

Bowler M Wkts Avg SR 5WI 10M Inngs Best Match
Richard Hadlee 62 311 22.57 51.2 25 6 9/52 15/123
Dale Steyn 62 309 23.48 41.9 19 4 7/51 10/91
Glenn McGrath 62 288 22.42 51.6 17 2 8/38 10/78
Shaun Pollock 62 258 20.50 53.8 14 1 7/87 10/147
Kapil Dev 62 247 27.70 54.0 18 2 9/83 11/146
Courtney Walsh 62 211 25.71 58.8 5 1 6/62 10/101

When compared to some of the finest pacers of all-time, Steyn has done better than them on a number of parameters through their respective careers. Only Sir Richard Hadlee leads Steyn in the wickets column, but the South African may have a chance of overhauling that mark. Steyn’s 62nd game is in progress and he might dismiss a few more Kiwi batsmen to beat the great New Zealander.

With such numbers, it is difficult to ignore Steyn’s place in history — a genuine match-winner and a game-changer.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)