Former Proteas captain and now CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith says retiring fast-bowling superstar Dale Steyn always “produced the goods when it really counted”.
On Tuesday, Cricket South Africa (CSA) paid tribute to one of its all-time greats who has retired from the game after a long and illustrious career during which he took 439 wickets in 93 Test matches to put him in eighth place on the all-time list.
He was a master both of conventional and reverse swing and, with his natural athleticism, generated extreme pace as well.
He was elected the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year in 2008 and this was the start of a period in which he was the world’s No 1-ranked bowler for an extended period of time, making the ICC Test Team of the Year for eight of the 10 years that followed.
Smith, who was Steyn’s captain for most of his Test career, also paid tribute.
“Nobody who saw it will ever forget that memorable delivery of Dale’s that bowled England’s Michael Vaughan in his debut Test series in 2004 that announced him on the world stage as a special talent. He was my go-to bowler when the Proteas needed a major breakthrough. What made him so special was that he always produced the goods when it really counted.
“His role was critical in our Test series wins in England and Australia in 2008 and again in 2012 that enabled us to become the No 1-ranked team in the world.
“We all have our favourite memories of him but two that stand out for me were his all-round performance at Melbourne in 2008 when he took 10 wickets in the match and scored 78 out of an 180-run partnership for the ninth wicket with JP Duminy that effectively clinched our first ever Test series victory in Australia and then his 10 wickets in the Test against India in 2010 in Nagpur that made him one of the few foreign fast bowlers to do this in a Test in India.
“He was a fierce competitor but one who always remained within the confines of the spirit of the game. Above all, he was a top guy.
“I thank him not only for what he has done for South African cricket but for the global game and wish him every happiness and success in his future endeavours.”