Cricketers pick their favourites

'The best South Africa has ever produced'

Part 1: Allan Donald on the most intimidating bowlers he has seen: Dale Steyn, the racehorse

Producer: Gokul Chakravarthy, Interviewer: Nagraj Gollapudi

May 14, 2013


Dale Steyn

'The best South Africa has ever produced'

May 14, 2013

Dale Steyn about to deliver the ball, South Africa v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Centurion, 3rd day, February 24, 2013
No batsman wants to be down the crease from that © AFP

What can you say about Dale Steyn? Goodness me! I've now got the pleasure of working with Dale. Nobody better right now in world cricket that can run through an attack when he's got his tail up. There is nobody better.

Just his overall run-up, to me, he's a racehorse. He's got the most beautiful run-up, just glides in. He's a bit like Michael Holding in a sense; maybe not as graceful, but not far away. He has a fantastic action. He's not a tall guy. He's a skiddy bowler.

I think his greatest asset is the ability to swing the ball away from the right-handers, but it is the length he bowls that gets people in trouble. It's a fuller length than normal. You can't get to him. You can't get a big stride to him. He suffocates you in the crease, and that's where he gets people nicked off, because he bowls a fuller length and swings it at high pace.

The one thing we're trying to work very hard on right now is the fact that his first spell has got to be the best spell and the quickest spell.

I think that he had a spell - a duel with Paul Collingwood - in Cape Town. It was a Test match I commented on, a Test match in which England were in trouble. Steyn went past the outside edge probably four times an over in which he bowled at 148-150kph without any luck. I think it was one of those spells where you deserve a six-for or a seven-for. But it didn't quite work out. England managed to draw the game right at the death, being nine-down. That was probably one of the best spells I've seen without any results.

I think the other spell, for me, was against New Zealand recently in Port Elizabeth, where he bowled at the speed of light and knocked over five the night before. That was on a real placid St George's wicket. The New Zealanders in that series made sure not to upset Steyn, not to get his eyes going, because once you do that, there's only a one-way ticket.

I think there is no question that Dale Steyn in the best South Africa has ever produced. He has flown past 330-odd wickets now. I hope he is going to take 500-plus wickets for South Africa. I think he will go past the most Test wickets ever by any South African. The rate he is taking it at is just phenomenal. You're talking about four, five wickets per innings, which is just staggering. And he's gone past 20 five-wicket hauls, five ten-wicket hauls, he's got the the best strike rate - of 41 [for bowlers who have taken more than 150 wickets].

I think his main contribution is the length he bowls. It's a length that is normally fuller than others. Where some people will hit the deck in the five- six-yard area, or shall I say the eight-yard area, Steyn goes into the six-yard area and he gets it to swing away. I think that's hard to get to and that's what gets most people out.

If you ask a lot of batters across the world, they'll say that's the toughest thing to face - to face Dale Steyn.

For me, among South Africans, you talk about Brett Schultz, Shaun Pollock and this guy. This guy's just got everything that no South African has had. You talk about "white-line fever" - he loves to overstep the mark and provoke a reaction. He's not scared of a word or two.

I think that his greatest contribution to the team is that he's fit all the time. You know, we don't take that for granted, ever.

He's working on his inswinger. He's working very hard on that, he's brought that into his game slowly. That's another piece of his game that he's going add to, especially at the Test match level. That's going to be hard to deal with.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest bowler South Africa has ever had.

Posted by shahkamesh on (May 17, 2013, 2:04 GMT)

The best ....especially when the conditions are right's just so amazing to see those swings at 150km/hr.

Posted by rsnCricketCrazy on (May 17, 2013, 0:59 GMT)

I will rate him as a modern legend in the game. Dale Steyn is truly one of the greatest asset for the SA to have him in their ranks.It's a Treat to watch him bowl every time. Real Steam engine indeed.

Posted by mithse89 on (May 16, 2013, 20:55 GMT)

@ Anshuman Mishra sir i think and many would agree Dale in his prime is enough to get rid of all these batsmen alone by himself... While comparing him with other great bowlers of the past, we tend to forget that unlike others he does not bowl on uncovered green decks...

Posted by   on (May 16, 2013, 20:01 GMT)

@yogi108 - you take these bowlers and I take these six batsman : Hayden, gavaskar, Viv Richards, tendulkar, BC lara , gilly in prime '

Posted by rrr_iba on (May 16, 2013, 4:22 GMT)

Steyn should be ranked as one of the greatest ever. Because, cricket today has become a batsmens' game. An average of 22.65 and SR of 41 in these days should be considered much better than the same in early days. Additionaly, he is playing all three formats and is able to maintain the same standard. And that is why you wont find any other close to him now.

Posted by   on (May 15, 2013, 17:50 GMT)

The Donald is being generous by saying Steyn is the best from SA. Just look at the averages, Donald is ahead of Steyn and that goes to show you what a great bowler Donald himself was.

Posted by highveldhillbilly on (May 15, 2013, 15:16 GMT)

@Dhrus Biswas - please do not ever use the IPL as a yard stick to measure the quality of a cricketer..... seriously. That's like judging the quality of a 2 hour movie on the number of explosions. Watching Steyn bowl live on the first day of a test is one of the more awesome things in this world. The spell at Wanderers recently against Pakistan was superb, you could just sense the excitement in the crowd anticipating a wicket. Even before he got the first wicket the way he was bowling suggested it could be one of those days or opposition batsmen.

Posted by Greatest.Cricketer on (May 15, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

I hope he breaks Muralitharan's record of 800 wickets in tests.

Posted by   on (May 15, 2013, 14:22 GMT)

One of the best fast bowlers ever seen on world cricket. According to me as good and as versatile as Wasim Akram.

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