Recounting Dale Steyn’s seven best bowling spells in Test cricket


After 93 Test matches and 439 wickets that he picked at an average of 22.95 and a strike-rate of 42.3, Dale Steyn has decided to call it time on his Test career.

There have been very few bowlers in the modern era who could intimidate the batsmen as Steyn could. The South African pacer could not only bowl fast but could also get the ball to move around, which made it difficult to face him in Test cricket. Be it with the new ball or the old one, he knew how to make the batsmen dance to his tunes.

In fact, Steyn was a consistent performer across conditions, faring well wherever he traveled. With him in the side, South Africa were on a roll. They hardly lost overseas and Steyn was a crucial part of that team. In fact, the Phalaborwa-born fast bowler has taken at least one five-wicket haul against every team that he has played against. If we consider bowlers who took over 200 Test wickets, Steyn has the best strike-rate in the history of Test cricket. Moreover, he finishes as the leading wicket-taker for South Africa and eighth overall, in Test cricket.

He will go down as one of the best fast bowlers of all time, and as he retires from Test cricket, here’s a look back at seven of his best spells.

7/50 vs India – Nagpur (2010)

Touring India is never easy. You are greeted with low, slow and turning tracks. However, Steyn always found a way to pick wickets. During the two-Test series in early 2010, it was the battle for the No. 1 spot in the Test rankings.

In the first Test at Nagpur, South Africa racked up a mammoth 558. Hashim Amla scored 253 and Jacques Kallis made 173. India were missing a couple of key batsmen but it still looked a strong batting line-up. Virender Sehwag scored a fine hundred but all the others became victims of Steyn’s terrific spell.

The right-arm pacer was absolutely brilliant as he ran through the Indian batting line-up one after the other. Barring Sehwag, no other Indian batsman had an answer to the pace and swing that Steyn exhibited. He picked up 7/50 as India were shot out for 233. Steyn picked up another three wickets in the second essay and helped South Africa win by an innings and take a 1-0 lead in the series.

6/8 vs Pakistan – Johannesburg (2013)

Steyn loved bowling at Johannesburg. He took five fifers at the Wanderers in Johannesburg and one among them was this freak spell against Pakistan. South Africa had made just 253 after opting to bat first in the first match of the series and Pakistan certainly had a sniff.

However, Steyn had other ideas. South Africa’s premier bowler blew away the entire Pakistan batting line-up with a fabulous exhibition of fast bowling. With some support from Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis, Steyn ripped through Pakistan. He took 6 wickets for just 8 runs in 8.1 overs. That spell helped South Africa skittle the Asian side out for a mere 49, which gave them a huge lead.

Steyn picked up another fifer in the second innings as he wrapped up the game for the Proteas. He finished with figures of 11/60 in the match, which is his career best.

5/67 vs Australia – Melbourne (2008)

Steyn is one of the reasons why South Africa have done so well in Australia in this 21st century. The fierce fast bowler was always up for a challenge against the Aussies. On his first tour in 2008-09, he was the standout bowler for South Africa.

In the second Test of the series – the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, Steyn produce a clinical showing. He picked up 10 wickets in the match, which drove South Africa to a series win. He first picked up 5/87 in the first innings as Australia scored 394. South Africa replied back with 459.

The lead wasn’t a lot and the Proteas needed to restrict the Aussies to a manageable total. Steyn once again came to the party and this time took 5/67 as he ran through the top and middle order of Australia. His heroics meant that the hosts could get just 247 and South Africa’s top three chased down 183 with ease.

5/23 vs India – Ahmedabad (2008)

After the first Test of the three-match series ended in a draw, Steyn ripped apart the Indian batting line-up on the first day of the second Test. He had taken four wickets in the previous Test and his confidence was running high.

On a green track in Ahmedabad, Steyn was in business as his spell saw India score a paltry 76 in their first innings. He continued his good form and rhythm as he picked up three more wickets in the second innings to help the Proteas beat India inside three days.

4/40 vs Australia – Perth (2012)

This may not be Steyn’s best performance in terms of numbers but this one certainly had a big impact. The first two Tests of the 2012 Test series were drawn. Thus, the last one was the decider.

Batting first, South Africa managed just 225 in their first innings. Australia had a chance to call the shots if they could bat well and get past that score. However, Steyn never allowed that to happen. He took four wickets out of the first six to fall and reduced Australia to 45/6. David Warner, Ed Cowan, Nathan Lyon and Michael Clarke all succumbed to Steyn’s fire.

He took 3/72 in the second innings as South Africa won the game. But it was Steyn’s first innings burst that set up the game and the series.

5/51 vs England – Johannesburg (2010)

England were leading the four-match Test series in 2009-2010 in South Africa when the teams reached Johannesburg for the final Test match. They were 1-0 up. However, South Africa bounced back on the back of Steyn’s heroics.

After opting to bat first, England were blown away by Steyn who had Morne Morkel on his side for company. Steyn took 5/51 as England were bowled out for just 180 in their first innings. Morkel took three wickets in that innings to play second fiddle to Steyn. South Africa scored 423 and took a huge lead. Steyn took a couple more wickets in the second innings and wrapped up the Test match and helped the Proteas level the series.

5/47 vs New Zealand – Centurion (2006)

This was Steyn’s fourth Test match and he hadn’t scalped more than two wickets in an innings. However, in this game against New Zealand which was the first Test of the series, he registered his maiden fifer.

South Africa scored 276 in the first innings and New Zealand fought back with 327. The Proteas scored 299 which set the Kiwis a target of 249. Steyn who had taken two key wickets in the first innings opened the bowling with Makhaya Ntini. While the latter picked up the first three wickets, the young Steyn joined in and the duo ran through the New Zealand batting order giving South Africa a win. Steyn took 5/47, which was his maiden five-wicket haul in international cricket.

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