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Just a couple of days ago, the whole cricket world was talking about 38 years old Englishman James Anderson who has left the whole cricket fraternity in a surprise, after they saw him bowling Indian skillful batters for fun at this stage of his career. But since the last couple of hours, Jimmie has gone into the background as the whole world is now talking about another 38 years old, which may be the greatest fast bowler ever as South African Dale Steyn retired from all cricket on Tuesday. (31 August 2021)
Dale Steyn announced his retirement from all cricket as he wants to start a new life after being the center of world cricket for almost 20 years. In his recent interview, he told a cricket website that his retirement was prompted partly by covid-19 and partly by his plan to start “a new and different life” at 38.
“I guess Covid-19 kind of made me see things differently; it wasn’t fun anymore. And if it’s not fun, then it’s not worth doing,” Steyn said. In a tweet on the micro-blogging website Twitter, he called his state of mind “bittersweet but grateful.”
How good was Dale Steyn?
Steyn made his test debut in late 2004 against England at Port Elizbeth; it was the same game where Mr. 360°, AB De Villiers, also represented his country for the first time. He got 16 scalps against New Zealand in his second series, but he took ten next year. Still, next wickets against the same opposition in Johannesburg, he announced himself at the international level.
In 2008, he became the fastest South African to reach 100 wickets. He got the award of the best test player of the year in the same year. His achievements and caliber increased further when South Africa started winning in Asia, primarily because of their best pacer in the XI, who was later called more dominant in Asia than the great Malcolm Marshall.
In 2012, he won TentireHeest Championship with his team and got the 300th wicket in test cricket, becoming the 4th South African to reach that many scalps. After turning 30, Steyn started getting injured occasionally but lead his team’s bowling attack in the T20 world cup 2014 and World Cup 2015. He could not play much test cricket after 2015 because of injuries but kept on trying his best. Till 2017, he remained the 4th best test bowler in ICC rankings. From 2009 to 2016, he remained world’s no.1 and no.2 in test cricket 5 and 3 times, respectively.
Best Fast Bowler Ever?
Although many people may disagree with this, records and stats tell us that Steyn was in the ranks of elites like Glenn McGrath and Wasim Akram. His average differential to other quicks of his span is more than that of McGrath even, and he stands taller than Waqar Younus and Courtney Walsh even in the records.
Steyn’s average differential in Asia is more than Courtney Walsh’s -10.46. Even a much better strike rate makes him the best Non-Asian pacer in Asia. In the list of pacers with over 200 wickets, his strike rate is better than Waqar Younus even. In the history of cricket, in the list of bowlers with at least 100 test wickets, only Richard Hadlee and Imran Khan average better than Steyn in victories, but Steyn’s strike rate is still the best on the list.
These stats and records make him the best fast bowler in before the history of cricket.
The End of an Era
In 2007-08 summer, when Steyn bowled a short ball to Craig Cummimg, he was sent to intensive care, and the world recognized Steyn as a fierce, fast man. A dozen years later, in 2018, he was up against an emerging Pakistani talented batsman, Babar Azam, who smashed him for fours for fun. Steyn had bowled good deliveries to him; he was getting some movement even in the 38th over. But at 35 that day, Steyn must have felt that he has lost something in the last three years since he suffered a groin strain in November 2015.
In the T20 world cup 2016, Steyn recovered but could play just two of the four matches. From December 2015 to August 2019, Steyn could play just 11 out of 35 test matches of South Africa. He had played 82 out of 105 test matches of South Africa in a dozen years before that.
At his peak, he had dismissed Pakistan’s then T20I skipper Mohammad Hafeez more than a dozen times. Hafeez averaged just merely 10.53 against the World’s best pacer of the time. Years later, he was being sidelined by South Africa for the shortest format of the game even as young guns like Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada don’t give a chance to the world’s best fast bowler who has come far from his era and has lost some essential piece of his personality there.
When he announces his retirement from all cricket and prefers to become a better “Dog Dady,” he realizes that Dale Steyn is not the same now. His body is 38 years old in 2021.
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