Dale Steyn brings an almost religious fervour to the art of fast bowling and Allan Donald says it is this passion for taking wickets that separates Steyn from other great pacemen.
Steyn became the 13th bowler to take 400 Test wickets in the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka this week, but his strike-rate of just 41.5 balls-per-wicket sets him apart from all the other cricketers to have achieved that milestone.
New Zealand great Sir Richard Hadlee is a distant second on 50.8, meaning Steyn is the most incisive bowler in Test history. Counting bowlers who took 300 Test wickets, Steyn still has the best strike-rate, followed by Waqar Younis (43.4), Malcolm Marshall (46.7), Donald himself (47.0) and Fred Trueman (49.4).
“Obviously Dale has immense skill to do that, but you can bring all the skill in the world to the table but if you don’t have passion you’re not going to have a record like his. The one thing that stands out for me, that separates Dale from the rest, is the deep competitive edge that only he has, which makes him into that incredible bowler. The number of times he has produced something special for South Africa because he’s so attack-minded,” Donald told The Citizen on Friday.
Donald, whose record certainly bears comparison to Steyn’s, is a firm believer that the 32-year-old is one of the all-time great bowlers.
“I get very passionate when I talk about the absolute greats – McGrath, Ambrose, Pollock – and they’ve all done amazingly well over a long period of time. You judge the greats on one thing and that’s consistency. Dale has got to 400 Test wickets so quickly because he’s so consistent, taking 80 Tests, that’s five wickets a game. His consistency is why his strike-rate is so low,” Donald said.
Remarkably, Steyn is as effective on the sub-continent as he is anywhere else, his haul of 80 wickets in 16 Tests (prior to the current game) perfectly matching his career-average of five per match. Only Hadlee and West Indian Andy Roberts have had better rates of success on the sub-continent.
“You only have to see how phenomenal Dale is in the sub-continent to understand his skill factor, especially reverse-swing. His pace through the air and ability to reverse the ball both ways are his greatest assets over there,” Donald said.
Steyn’s former bowling coach with the Proteas said he is not sure whether the man with the second-most Test wickets for South Africa behind Shaun Pollock (421) would consider slowing down and using skill more than pace as he gets older, as Hadlee did so successfully for New Zealand.
“I hope he’s got more diesel in the tank but he’s 32 and, after a massive milestone, it will be interesting to see how he’s handled over the next 12 months. He looks fresh and hungry at the moment, but I think he would hate bowling at 134km/h. He’ll have to decide that for himself, but there’s a huge series coming up in India and we need him bowling at his best in that,” Donald said.
Tests Inns Balls Runs Wkts Best BM Av ER SR 5i 10m Steyn 80 149 16716 9040 402 7-51 11-60 22.48 3.24 41.5 25 5
Donald 72 129 15519 7344 330 8-71 12-139 22.25 2.83 47.0 20 3
Most Test wickets in Asia by bowlers from outside the subcontinent
|Dale Steyn||South Africa||16||80||22.17|
|Courtney Walsh||West Indies||17||77||20.53|
|Malcolm Marshall||West Indies||19||71||23.05|
|Sir Richard Hadlee||New Zealand||13||68||21.58|
|Shaun Pollock||South Africa||17||60||23.18|
|Wes Hall||West Indies||11||54||20.05|
|Andy Roberts||West Indies||9||49||21.53|
*Stats courtesy CricInfo & sportskeeda.com