Dale Steyn’s mind wants Shaun Pollock’s South African record of 421 Test wickets, but his body is fighting the mind of the cricketer England’s Stuart Broad described as the greatest bowler of this generation.
Broad, whose sensational spell of fast bowling at the Wanderers won England the series against the Proteas, is ranked No 1 in the world because of the statistical return of 6-17 in the Proteas second innings.
But a day after Broad dismissed the notion he was in any way superior to Steyn as a fast bowler, South Africa’s premier bowler was ruled out of the fourth Test at Centurion.
Broad told the media: ‘My dad (former England cricketer Chris) always talks about Malcolm Marshall being the bowler of his generation. Well, Dale Steyn is the bowler of our generation.
‘Just have a look at his record: his wickets; his strike rate; his average. He is the best bowler in the world.’
Steyn’s strike rate of a wicket every 41.7 balls is unmatched in the history of Test cricket, with only five bowlers (with 200-plus wickets) doing so at a strike rate of less than 50. Among the elite five is another South African legendary fast bowler Allan Donald, whose strike rate was a wicket every 47 balls.
South African writer Tom Eaton, in Business Day’s Sport Monthly, less than 18 months ago expressed concern for Steyn’s physical workload and expressed the view Steyn had 300 Test overs left in him.
Since Eaton’s study of the fast bowler’s career, Steyn has bowled 270 overs. He has played in just two of the last seven Proteas Tests and not finished either of the two he started.
No bowler in the history of the game can match Steyn for strike rate (at an average of 22.53 and 25 five-wicket hauls and five 10-wicket returns) was also the fastest Test bowler to 400 wickets.
Pollock’s South African Test record will be a motivation, but with the Proteas only due to play Test cricket again in August, Father Time is not Steyn’s ally, especially with the demands of playing T20 cricket across the globe.