June 18, 2010

Steyn gathers steam

The last couple of years haven't been great ones for fast bowling, but South Africa's spearhead has bucked that trend quite emphatically
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The last couple of years haven't been great ones for fast bowling in general, but one bowler has bucked that trend, and done it emphatically. Dale Steyn is the complete fast bowler, and over the last three years he has put the entire package to terrifying use, mixing extreme pace with the ability to move the ball both ways and to bowl the wicked bouncer. Add his relentless aggression and the mix has been far too much to handle for batsmen all over the world. In Trinidad, the hapless West Indians were his latest victims, and his match haul of 8 for 94 took him past the 200-wicket mark in only his 39th Test, making him the fourth-fastest to achieve it, after Clarrie Grimmett (36 Tests), Dennis Lillee and Waqar Younis (both 38).

From the time Steyn made his Test debut, against England in 2004, it was clear that here was a bowler with special skills. The lack of direction made it frustrating to watch him in his early years, but since 2007 he has taken it up a few notches. In 30 Tests during this period, Steyn's wickets tally reads a whopping 172, at an exceptional average and strike rate. During this period his highest average against a team is 28.13, versus England, while he has feasted on New Zealand, taking 20 wickets in two Tests against them.

Steyn's Test career
Period Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Before 2007 9 32 35.93 52.8 2/ 0
Since Jan 2007 30 172 20.65 36.4 12/ 4
Career 39 204 23.05 38.9 14/ 4

His overall average is superb, but the most remarkable aspect of Steyn's career so far has been the rate at which he dismisses batsmen - his average over 39 Tests is a wicket every 38.9 deliveries, which is the best among bowlers with 200 or more wickets. Shane Bond and George Lohmann have done better, but neither has managed 200 wickets. The next best in this club is Waqar Younis, with a strike rate of 43.4, but that's because his striking power decreased slightly during the second half of his career: when he reached the 200 mark, his strike rate was 38.6, which is marginally better than Steyn's at this point. (Click here for Waqar's cumulative summary.) Malcolm Marshall, Allan Donald and Fred Trueman are the only others who've taken more than 200 wickets at a strike rate of less than 50.

Best strike rates in Test cricket (Qual: 200 wickets)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average 5WI/10WM Strike rate
Dale Steyn 39 204 23.05 14/ 4 38.9
Waqar Younis 87 373 23.56 22/ 5 43.4
Malcolm Marshall 81 376 20.94 22/ 4 46.7
Allan Donald 72 330 22.25 20/ 3 47.0
Fred Trueman 67 307 21.57 17/ 3 49.4

So lethal has Steyn been over the last three-and-a-half years that his stats are easily the best during this period. Among bowlers with at least 50 wickets, his average is well clear of Pakistan's Mohammad Asif, who has played only 11 Tests to Steyn's 30 and barely makes it past the qualifying mark. Most of the Test regulars average on the wrong side of 25. Mitchell Johnson, the second-highest wicket-taker during this period, averages more than 28, while Muttiah Muralitharan has been on the wane despite averaging more than five wickets per match.

Steyn, on the other hand, has been deadly against all opponents in all conditions, taking at least one five-for against all seven teams he has played over the last three-and-a-half years.

Best Test bowlers since Jan 2007 (Qual: 50 wickets)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Dale Steyn 30 172 20.65 36.4 12/ 4
Mohammad Asif 11 53 24.35 51.7 4/ 0
Ryan Sidebottom 21 79 27.43 59.3 5/ 1
Brett Lee 18 85 27.85 52.5 3/ 0
Mitchell Johnson 34 155 28.03 52.1 5/ 2
Muttiah Muralitharan 22 118 28.30 59.0 9/ 3
Stuart Clark 16 52 28.78 63.7 1/ 0
Zaheer Khan 28 113 29.43 53.1 6/ 1
Graeme Swann 20 91 30.02 60.1 7/ 1
Jacques Kallis 35 61 30.37 64.0 1/ 0

The table below indicates how far ahead Steyn is compared to his fast-bowling mates during this golden period. The rest of the pace pack average more than 35 per wicket, and require almost 11 overs per wicket to Steyn's six. Of the 19 bowlers with 50 or more wickets during this period, 12 average more than 30.

Steyn v all other fast bowlers since Jan 2007
Bowler Wickets Average Strike rate Econ rate
Dale Steyn 172 20.65 36.4 3.40
Other fast bowlers 2488 35.34 64.03 3.31

Steyn is also well clear of the other South African bowlers during this period. In the matches he has played, Steyn has grabbed almost 34% of the total wickets taken by the team, despite bowling only about 23% of the overs. Twelve of the 18 five-fors by South Africans stand in his name.

In terms of wickets, Makhaya Ntini is second in the list, but his 75 scalps have cost almost 35 each. Morne Morkel has done much better, averaging 29 for his 74 wickets. Paul Harris and Jacques Kallis are the only others with 50 or more wickets, but neither has a sub-30 average.

Steyn and other South African bowlers in Tests since Jan 2007 (in the matches Steyn played)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Dale Steyn 30 172 20.65 36.4 12/ 4
Other SA bowlers 30 338 32.90 62.87 6/ 0

If Steyn takes a five-for, there's a 93% chance of South Africa winning the Test: of his 14 five-fors, 13 have been in wins. It's a remarkable statistic, and one that reinforces Steyn's value to the side. The fact that he takes his wickets so quickly also means opposition teams have little chance to fight back and force a draw - one deadly Steyn spell usually means the direction of the match has been sealed.

The difference between Steyn's averages in wins, losses and draws indicates his effectiveness, and his ability to change a game: in wins he averages 16, with 149 wickets in 21 matches; in draws and losses the average balloons to more than 41. Overall, 73% of his wickets have come in wins, which is more or less the percentage for Shane Warne (72%) and Glenn McGrath (73.53%), the two bowlers who have played in the most wins.

Steyn's only five-for that didn't win South Africa the match came in Colombo, but even that was an agonisingly close affair, which Sri Lanka won by one wicket, chasing down a fourth-innings target of 352. Steyn would have to take some of the blame for that, as he finished with figures of none for 81 in the second innings after taking 5 for 82 in the first.

Best match-winners in Tests (Qual: 125 wickets)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Richard Hadlee 22 173 13.06 33.5 17/ 8
Imran Khan 26 155 14.50 38.3 11/ 6
Dale Steyn 21 149 16.00 28.2 13/ 4
Muttiah Muralitharan 53 430 16.03 42.6 40/ 18
Malcolm Marshall 43 254 16.78 38.1 17/ 4
Allan Donald 33 187 16.79 35.5 14/ 3
Curtly Ambrose 44 229 16.86 44.4 13/ 3
Fred Trueman 34 177 17.30 40.8 11/ 2
Clarrie Grimmett 20 143 17.60 52.6 15/ 6
Brian Statham 28 127 17.74 50.0 5/ 1

The one slight glitch in his career so far has been his performance against left-handers, but you wouldn't know that from the manner in which he bowled against Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Co in Trinidad - six of his eight victims in that game were left-handers. That average against the lefties has already come down to 27.60 in the period since January 2007, and if he keeps going like he is, batsmen of all types will have plenty to worry about in the next few years.

Steyn against right- and left-handers
Batsman type Wickets Average Strike rate
Right-handers 142 17.97 32.72
Left-handers 62 31.87 55.40

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 25, 2010, 15:31 GMT

    Diri, I would choose all four bowlers I mentioned previously (Ambrose, McGrath, Donald and Wasim Akram) over Steyn. The reason is simple, they can all win matches (Steyn included) but Steyn is the only one who could most definitely lose me a match. He bowls too many bad balls compared to McGrath and Ambrose and he does not have the variety of Wasim Akram. However, Steyn is well placed to surpass Donald, so over time, he is the first bowler I would "reconsider" in my all-star lineup. Of course, I am only talking two and a half generations of cricketers, so the choices will be expanded if I included previous generations. But if you are asking specifically about McGrath vs Steyn, McGrath wins hands down. Look at the results and the efficiency of McGrath. Forget the process. Fast bowling is not always about raw pace, swing, and style. It is only about taking wickets and taking them cheaply. If you do that, you win most of your Test matches.

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 25, 2010, 9:28 GMT

    BillyCC are you saying that you would pick McGrath over steyn in your line up???

  • POSTED BY Maestro_of_Cricket on | June 25, 2010, 6:36 GMT

    Rajesh, you've done almost all the comparisons and has bought up a number of tables which show Steyn's bowling might, but you've missed one crucial table. Where is the comparison that shows Steyn's top-order wickets v. lower-order wickets? All the time Ntini or Morkel does the hard work by getting out the big guns and Steyn then comes to mop up the tail to take an undeserved five for. It happens almost ALL THE TIME. Take the first match against Windies, or take the match against Sri Lanka which you've mentioned in the article, or take the match against India at Motera where they were bowled out for 73, you'll see what I mean.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 24, 2010, 9:44 GMT

    Diri, it's irrelevant to the argument whether I'm Australian or not. My comments still stand if Steyn was Australian. In terms of the bowlers I saw regularly, I rate Ambrose a tad, and only a tad, higher than McGrath. Followed by Donald and then a gap to Wasim Akram. And no fast bowler in this generation has come close to my assessment taking into account pitches, bowling quality within teams, opposition batting quality etc. But as I said, Steyn is the best of this generation. For example, he is miles ahead of Mitchell Johnson who is a poor man's version of Steyn. Steyn may one day reach the lofty heights and surpass some of the bowlers I mentioned and some I have not (Marshall, Garner, Trueman etc.). But he may also fail to surpass any of them because he has weaknesses in his game which he will need to improve on.

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 24, 2010, 6:43 GMT

    lol BillyCC i had a feeling you were an aussie

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | June 23, 2010, 21:56 GMT

    @BillyC, your point would be a good 1 if he was in the team to contain, there aren't that many out n out quicks who have the ability to contain n still have a dominant SR, especially in this current era where the pitches r roads (it would be a good idea to check how may of the losses he featured in r on such pitches vs 1's which give him some help...for which there r few). I would use your point to highlight Harris' shortcomings in the 1st test n lesser extent the 2nd test because his job in the team is to CONTAIN most the times. G. Smith himself stated that once. Pollock n Mc Grath n Ambrose all had great economies but with the exception of Ambrose, they were no where as quick or constantly "stump-attacking" as Steyn, neither are their SR better. I agree that to surpass these names he would have to drop his Econ a touch but in no-way should one hold his econ against him once his SR remains better than their's, regardless of whether or not his avg is high in team losses.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 23, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    Diri, I'm from Australia.

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 23, 2010, 7:21 GMT

    BillyCC may i ask which country you are from?

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 23, 2010, 7:20 GMT

    BillyCC you must remember that the game has changed,in the modern era were pitches are roads and the boundaries are shorter.... its a batsmens game. so you should not expect steyns runs per over to be under 3. and i think steyn has not even reached his best yet, he even says that he is still learning new things. the best from this man is still to come mark my words!

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 23, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    And yes, we will see whether Steyn can be the greatest bowler of all time. I actually think he already is the greatest in this generation, but it is a weaker generation. For him to be considered the greatest of all time, I would like to see his economy rate drop to under 3, which would take his average to under 22, and if he can more or less maintain a strike rate to around 50 by the time he gets to 400 wickets. And when he gets older, I don't mind if his stats blow out a little, but he must be able to find new ways of getting people out. In my mind, all the current contenders for the greatest bowler of all time fit many if not all of the above criteria.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 25, 2010, 15:31 GMT

    Diri, I would choose all four bowlers I mentioned previously (Ambrose, McGrath, Donald and Wasim Akram) over Steyn. The reason is simple, they can all win matches (Steyn included) but Steyn is the only one who could most definitely lose me a match. He bowls too many bad balls compared to McGrath and Ambrose and he does not have the variety of Wasim Akram. However, Steyn is well placed to surpass Donald, so over time, he is the first bowler I would "reconsider" in my all-star lineup. Of course, I am only talking two and a half generations of cricketers, so the choices will be expanded if I included previous generations. But if you are asking specifically about McGrath vs Steyn, McGrath wins hands down. Look at the results and the efficiency of McGrath. Forget the process. Fast bowling is not always about raw pace, swing, and style. It is only about taking wickets and taking them cheaply. If you do that, you win most of your Test matches.

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 25, 2010, 9:28 GMT

    BillyCC are you saying that you would pick McGrath over steyn in your line up???

  • POSTED BY Maestro_of_Cricket on | June 25, 2010, 6:36 GMT

    Rajesh, you've done almost all the comparisons and has bought up a number of tables which show Steyn's bowling might, but you've missed one crucial table. Where is the comparison that shows Steyn's top-order wickets v. lower-order wickets? All the time Ntini or Morkel does the hard work by getting out the big guns and Steyn then comes to mop up the tail to take an undeserved five for. It happens almost ALL THE TIME. Take the first match against Windies, or take the match against Sri Lanka which you've mentioned in the article, or take the match against India at Motera where they were bowled out for 73, you'll see what I mean.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 24, 2010, 9:44 GMT

    Diri, it's irrelevant to the argument whether I'm Australian or not. My comments still stand if Steyn was Australian. In terms of the bowlers I saw regularly, I rate Ambrose a tad, and only a tad, higher than McGrath. Followed by Donald and then a gap to Wasim Akram. And no fast bowler in this generation has come close to my assessment taking into account pitches, bowling quality within teams, opposition batting quality etc. But as I said, Steyn is the best of this generation. For example, he is miles ahead of Mitchell Johnson who is a poor man's version of Steyn. Steyn may one day reach the lofty heights and surpass some of the bowlers I mentioned and some I have not (Marshall, Garner, Trueman etc.). But he may also fail to surpass any of them because he has weaknesses in his game which he will need to improve on.

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 24, 2010, 6:43 GMT

    lol BillyCC i had a feeling you were an aussie

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | June 23, 2010, 21:56 GMT

    @BillyC, your point would be a good 1 if he was in the team to contain, there aren't that many out n out quicks who have the ability to contain n still have a dominant SR, especially in this current era where the pitches r roads (it would be a good idea to check how may of the losses he featured in r on such pitches vs 1's which give him some help...for which there r few). I would use your point to highlight Harris' shortcomings in the 1st test n lesser extent the 2nd test because his job in the team is to CONTAIN most the times. G. Smith himself stated that once. Pollock n Mc Grath n Ambrose all had great economies but with the exception of Ambrose, they were no where as quick or constantly "stump-attacking" as Steyn, neither are their SR better. I agree that to surpass these names he would have to drop his Econ a touch but in no-way should one hold his econ against him once his SR remains better than their's, regardless of whether or not his avg is high in team losses.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 23, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    Diri, I'm from Australia.

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 23, 2010, 7:21 GMT

    BillyCC may i ask which country you are from?

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 23, 2010, 7:20 GMT

    BillyCC you must remember that the game has changed,in the modern era were pitches are roads and the boundaries are shorter.... its a batsmens game. so you should not expect steyns runs per over to be under 3. and i think steyn has not even reached his best yet, he even says that he is still learning new things. the best from this man is still to come mark my words!

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 23, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    And yes, we will see whether Steyn can be the greatest bowler of all time. I actually think he already is the greatest in this generation, but it is a weaker generation. For him to be considered the greatest of all time, I would like to see his economy rate drop to under 3, which would take his average to under 22, and if he can more or less maintain a strike rate to around 50 by the time he gets to 400 wickets. And when he gets older, I don't mind if his stats blow out a little, but he must be able to find new ways of getting people out. In my mind, all the current contenders for the greatest bowler of all time fit many if not all of the above criteria.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 23, 2010, 0:09 GMT

    Diri, I've watched both and can't decide on who looks better. Ambrose still beats both Donald and Steyn for deadliness and grace combined, probably because his height is a factor.

  • POSTED BY PSK_analyst on | June 22, 2010, 13:27 GMT

    In the age of flat pitches,broader bats & relentless cricket dale steyn is a revelation indeed. One wonders what would be his bowling average in the good old days when the pitches assisted bowling & fast bowling ruled.

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 22, 2010, 10:27 GMT

    BillyCC , there will never be factual information as to whether someone will become a legend, you just predict. and i think Dale steyn will become the greatest fast bowler off his generation and off all time....and you talk about his run up and energy, well have you watched steyn live? i watched steyn live and Donald live and i can tell you steyn looks much more deadly yet gracefull

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 22, 2010, 0:06 GMT

    Neutral Fan, you raise a good point about the importance of bowling partnerships. Steyn is missing a great bowler at his side, which should provide him the support needed to blast a side out. I still believe he contributes significantly in draws and losses. The recent example in the West Indies highlights this. The poor average in losses and draws is a result of his economy rate. Yesterday, Steyn gave away 105 runs, taking 1 wicket at more than 3.5 an over. Which means he bowls more than his fair share of bad balls and boundary balls. I believe he needs to cut this down for his career and his team to progress.

  • POSTED BY Amol_Gh on | June 21, 2010, 15:02 GMT

    The next time someone says: "Steyn is over-rated". Just request them to check the "Most Wickets in Career" List in the Tests section, count the number of Bowlers who managed to have joined the list playing sub-40 (less than 40) Tests and then count how much of them are fast-bowlers. Then they will truly understand the greatness of Steyn. BTW, Grimmett was a spinner.

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | June 21, 2010, 0:31 GMT

    @BillyC. You go on and on about his avg in losses, the way I see it, it shows that his team DEPENDS TOO MUCH on him. With Ntini on the wain and Morkel in the recent past having rough patches and Harris not being a prodigy, you can argue that at times when he's having an off-day, there was no-1 to pick up the slack, hence the team loses. I think the stat should be filtered for it gives an insight into how VALUABLE a player is and how many others on the team are there to pick up the slack. Ambrose had Walsh n for a while Bishop, Mc Grath had Warne,Gillespie,Lee etc. plus they didn't always have to bowl on the crap pitches we see popping up all over the world...even the W.I. now, so I am not surprised his avg is so poor in losses and I don't think he "contributes" to his team's losses for he isn't the only bowler on the team is he? No he's not quite yet great but he has 1/2 his body through the door already and his stats in losses have nothing to do with it.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 20, 2010, 23:38 GMT

    Point taken Diri, if we forget the stats, Steyn does look good running in, and he has great energy. But if we are judging by that criteria, Allan Donald and Curtly Ambrose are also very good to watch live as well. I am too young unfortunately to have watched Lillee or Marshall or Garner but they were probably great as well. I can't agree with thestunner316_15 though. There is no factual information that suggests Steyn could even probably be the greatest fast bowler of all time, only that he is the leading contender for the greatest fast bowler of his generation, which I would define as after 2006 when McGrath retired.

  • POSTED BY sweetspot on | June 20, 2010, 15:44 GMT

    It's interesting how the lean fast bowlers last longer at higher pace. The entire West Indian fast bowling system produced lean bowlers for a long time, before the bulkier ones showed up, like Shoaib Akhtar, Shane Bond etc., who are breaking down all the time. Same with Shaun Tait. Brett Lee is a bit of an enigma, but for bowling fast without breaking down often, Steyn's constitution may be the ideal one. What a fantastic bowler!

  • POSTED BY Wahid_Hossain on | June 19, 2010, 14:03 GMT

    Let me add on to my earlier comments.I understand Shakib marginally missed the list.His 75 wickets in 21 tests at an average of 32.13 and a strike rate of 67.7 just couldn't make the cut.Nonetheless if one considers Shakib was not used as a frontline bowler at the beginning of his career and had only 9 wickets from his first 6 tests;one can understand how wonderfully he had performed for last two years. Thanks Rajesh for a nice piece.

  • POSTED BY Wahid_Hossain on | June 19, 2010, 13:00 GMT

    Steyn is a true modern day great,worthy to be compared with greats of any era. What about Shakib?I'm pretty sure he has more than 50 test wickets during this period.

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 19, 2010, 9:58 GMT

    everyone dont pay attention to rza89,he doesnt know what he is saying lol..... and BillyCC just forget about the stats for a second, you have to watch steyn live to feel the energy and the fear this man brings to batsmen, its amazing.....he is a legend

  • POSTED BY NikhilPapad3 on | June 19, 2010, 8:12 GMT

    That is such an odd comment coming from you rza89, Dale Steyn is a quality,GREAT fast bowler, cant you see? Hes the 4th quickest to reach 200test wickets. And he has taken wickets on dead pitches, true, south african pitches have a bit og pace and nip early on but he has used that effectively and well by pitching thr ball up, and he's taken wickets on the sub continent, and the decks their were absolute roads. A poor indian team without Tendulkar? Oh, so Sehwag, Dravid,Laxman, Ganguly arent good ebough for you? Are you serious? Honestly think before you comment please, if he plays another 3or 4years of test cricket he will be in the 400club, and even the great south african and all time great has said that Dale is the best match winner south africa has had after himslef, shaun pollock was one but dale has had an amazing career so far and i have no doubt by the end of his career he would have been more successful that Shaun Pllock and Allan Donald himself

  • POSTED BY Shafaet on | June 19, 2010, 7:17 GMT

    rza89: if you dont understand cricket please go and watch football. your theory: shehwag onece scored 300 against steyn and co == steyn is not a good bowler. haven't you seen steyn destroying opponent in dead pitches? the you are blind man

  • POSTED BY rza89 on | June 18, 2010, 21:54 GMT

    rubbish, steyn is not a great bowler yet, he has played in matches where he gets to bowl in the fourth innings alot, espically since smith has won the toss 8 times out of the last 10 matches. hes is good, but one should consider the large amounts of matches he has played against bangladesh, west indies and new zeland. granted he has been very sucessfull against a poor indian side without tendulkar, but he did fail in when sehwag did a 300. whereas malcom marshal could could take wickets on very dead pitches to

  • POSTED BY klempie on | June 18, 2010, 15:20 GMT

    Steyntjie is a legend in our time. I was working for SABC and at St George's when he made his debut against the Poms. He fully announced himself to the world with his Vaughan dismissal. Practically an offcutter at around 146 clicks, pitched middle and leg and took off stump out of the ground. Look on Vaughan's face....priceless. :) Then he did it to him again in 2008 for good measure.

  • POSTED BY ElectronSmoke on | June 18, 2010, 15:06 GMT

    Totally agree with "waspsting" - he is perhaps the only 'great' fast bowler of this generation who has all the toys and knows how and when to play with them. Best of all, he has that devil which marks out the best of the fast men from also-rans. That said, he plays the game with passion and a smile. With Bond and Flintoff retired, Johnson highly inconsistent, Bollinger yet to establish his test credentials and Malinga not quite the all-round/ all surfaces master its really Steyn who can put the fear of God into the mind of batsmen :) ... Good luck to him!

  • POSTED BY cricket_ftw on | June 18, 2010, 14:53 GMT

    Amzing fitness ... i dont remember him getting injured frequently ... whadaaaplayaaa ...

  • POSTED BY Lyzyrd on | June 18, 2010, 13:59 GMT

    DW Steyn is indeed the complete cricketer. Other than 'just' a strike bowler, his outfielding and batting are performed with as much passion. Dale is a fan favourite too, both for his on-field actions and his interaction with the youth off the field. I wish more sportspersons from my country would do the same instead of acting like under-paid prima donna's.

  • POSTED BY knowledge_eater on | June 18, 2010, 13:48 GMT

    Steyn run-up is one of the best fast bowler's run-up. Its so perfect. Its like he is fighter plane about to take off. I think if he keeps up with his fitness, he will overshadow his likes Donald. Its still big shoe to fill but I am sure he will make bigger shoe than him. If I want to be fast bowler, I want to imitate his run-up.

  • POSTED BY waspsting on | June 18, 2010, 13:31 GMT

    The ONLY truly great fast bowler today, worthy to be ranked with last generations Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Mcgrath and Ambrose. Hard to compare, of course, but i think he's better than most of them. The constant movement - in and out, new ball or old, - places him ahead of the the latter three on the list, at least for now. The acid test in his standing in history is yet to come, though - how he fares after he loses some of that express pace. Far and away the best of this era, though

  • POSTED BY on | June 18, 2010, 13:04 GMT

    Always enjoy S Rajesh's insights, thanks for another numbers feast :) As an Proteas supporter, you can't make me happier than talking about The Steyn Remover. He is a cricketing genius, and a gentleman too!

  • POSTED BY on | June 18, 2010, 11:02 GMT

    Who would have thought the heir to Waqar and Wasim would be a South African? There are so few great fast bowlers playing today - in fact Steyn is the only one I can think of. As Morkel continues to improves, SA should have a devastating attack for the next 5 years, if they don't burn them out.

    What's so good about Steyn is that he is basically an overly aggressive pakistani swing bowler in his mentality, rather than a containing SAfrican line and length merchant

    But depressingly there are only a handful of promising young fast bowlers in world cricket: Mohammed Aamer of Pakistan being the obvious one, along with Steven Finn, Broad ans some others, but you really have to think hard. West Indies should have plenty (Roach, lawson, edwards), but they never actually seem to get on the park together

  • POSTED BY longpavilion on | June 18, 2010, 10:51 GMT

    Agree he is a legend in the making and has remained largely injury free which is good news. He does have a high percentage of lower order wickets.

    Wickets taken of batsmen 1-3 28.9%, 4-7 35.2 % and 8-11 35.7%. Two other examples, Hoggard 1-3 39.1%, 4-7- 35.8% and 8-11 25% who has similar figures to McGrath 1-3 39.9%, 4-7 34.8%, 8-11 25.2%.

  • POSTED BY thestunner316_15 on | June 18, 2010, 10:06 GMT

    i would go as far as to say at this rate steyn could probably become the greatest fast bowler of all time.. consider the times.. batting has never been easier, pitches have slowed down drastically, the last time i saw a green top wkt was probably in the 20th century.. and yet he churns out brilliant performance after anotehr... and he takes 5 fors for fun on dust bowls like nagpur and port of spain.. i remember the english and windies series last year... both teams struggled to force a result on those horrible wkts, with steyn SA finished the job in 3 1/2 days.. unbelievable.. donald is my fav fast bowler of all time.. but steyn is getting there slowly..

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 18, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    Diri, yes any team in the world would pick Steyn as their opening bowler and he probably is the most valuable player in the world although I'm sure Kallis, Sehwag and Watson have their fans shouting from their respective corners. But to describe him as a legend is going too far. Ankit Jain's post about misleading stats is spot on. The stats I would use to dissect Steyn's career a bit more is to look at away averages, performance against the top teams,consistency year on year and performance in losses and draws. Steyn performs very well away from home (avg 22.75). He has done well against India but less so against Australia and England. If you remove the early years, he has been fairly consistent, so that's a tick for him. But his losses record is shocking (average of 42 giving away 4 runs an over)and that is the area he must improve in to have any hope of being a true legend. Look at McGrath or Ambrose's stats for true legend status.

  • POSTED BY Nuxxy on | June 18, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    That higher average against England is no doubt partly due to them being his opponents in his first series, and also his being injured during the most recent series. He missed Centurion, was not match fit in Durban, and only came right halfway through Cape Town, and pummeled the pommies at the Wanderers. What I'm glad to see is that he has learnt so well, and his old ball bowling now is awesome to watch. Having a good partner is also important...it would be interesting to see his stats when paired with other bowlers.

  • POSTED BY Proteas_Supporter on | June 18, 2010, 8:57 GMT

    "dale william steyn" is his name but we can call him "dangerous wonderful steyn". he is following the footsteps of donald. he has an wonderful action which is not complicated and bowls in good areas, allowing the ball to swing and now he has developed another art which is reverse swing to go with his sensational and trademark outswingers. well i am actually running out of words to describe his greatness. last week we had an article saying steyn is too expensive in terms of R.P.O, yes everyone knows that but you have to compare that to what is the overall runrate in which batsmen are scoring these days. only when batsmen score that fast you get results. over the last five years we have been getting results almost every match. steyn who bowls aggressively and he is attacking all the time by pitching the ball up inviting the batsmen to drive, you go for lot of runs but watching that is interesting, unlike mcgrath and other economical bowlers who prefer defensive tactics which is boring.

  • POSTED BY Shafaet on | June 18, 2010, 8:52 GMT

    Steyn is not a legend in making, he is a legend, a fearsome fast bowler who will rule the world in this decade and will produce fairy tales one after another.

  • POSTED BY on | June 18, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    Just one comment about something that always irks me. Why is average in wins always considered an important statistics? I think this is the most misleading statistic that keeps appearing in cricket analyses. Unlike conditions like opposition, home/away, 1st/2nd innings, a win is not a condition that applies when a player is performing and therefore cannot indicate a more or less demanding condition.

    If anything, filtering by matches won creates a strong bias in the sample. Any team wins more against weaker oppositions (Bangaladesh instead of Australia) and in easier conditions (like home instead of away). So a good average in matches drawn or lost may be a better indicator of a player's resilience. So I think we should stop applying this filter.

  • POSTED BY swartshaun on | June 18, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    Steyn is by far the best bowler in the world at this moment. Another rare thing is that he is doing it in all three versions of the game. Saw him bowl at 155 km/h plus in the IPL. Only hope that for REAL fast bowling (150 plus) south-africa manages him well and dont over use him because of his effectiveness.

  • POSTED BY AndrewWI on | June 18, 2010, 7:06 GMT

    I second that one! With the quality of fast bowling in such a decline , it is so refreshing to see Steyn charging in.

  • POSTED BY soumyas on | June 18, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    i love watching steyn's incutters which pluck the stumps even after wickets r fully covered by the batsmen. batsmen go clueless... looking back and front, and go back to pavilion.... steyn's revers swinging deliveries r very rarely scene in cricket world nwdays... only waqar used to do it.

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 18, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    He is already a legend....any team in the world would pick him as their opening bowler....I would even go as far as saying he is the most valuable player in the world today!!! sachin? ponting?mulri? asif? johnson? na they dont come close!!!!

  • POSTED BY aditya2008 on | June 18, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Love watching him bowl, steaming in like the TGV! That said, it'd be really interesting to see how he evolves as a truly complete fast bowler when he's 30+ . Hopefully he can stand the test of time!

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 18, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    The stats are very good, but the one that is problematic is the difference between Steyn's averages in wins, losses and draws. This is actually a poor stat for him. An average of 41 in draws and losses coupled with his expensive economy rate means that he contributes significantly to South Africa's losses as well. It means that when he's not taking wickets, he's giving away runs in quick time leaving the opposition time to bowl South Africa out, or at least reaching safety.

  • POSTED BY on | June 18, 2010, 6:02 GMT

    Awesome read, thanks. I am a big fan of Steyn. To my mind, easily the best fast bowler going around - and has been for sometime.

  • POSTED BY Slave4freedom on | June 18, 2010, 5:56 GMT

    Steyn is a legend in the making. The stats prove what many people have believed for a while now. He is undoubtedly the best bowler in the world.

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  • POSTED BY Slave4freedom on | June 18, 2010, 5:56 GMT

    Steyn is a legend in the making. The stats prove what many people have believed for a while now. He is undoubtedly the best bowler in the world.

  • POSTED BY on | June 18, 2010, 6:02 GMT

    Awesome read, thanks. I am a big fan of Steyn. To my mind, easily the best fast bowler going around - and has been for sometime.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | June 18, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    The stats are very good, but the one that is problematic is the difference between Steyn's averages in wins, losses and draws. This is actually a poor stat for him. An average of 41 in draws and losses coupled with his expensive economy rate means that he contributes significantly to South Africa's losses as well. It means that when he's not taking wickets, he's giving away runs in quick time leaving the opposition time to bowl South Africa out, or at least reaching safety.

  • POSTED BY aditya2008 on | June 18, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Love watching him bowl, steaming in like the TGV! That said, it'd be really interesting to see how he evolves as a truly complete fast bowler when he's 30+ . Hopefully he can stand the test of time!

  • POSTED BY diri on | June 18, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    He is already a legend....any team in the world would pick him as their opening bowler....I would even go as far as saying he is the most valuable player in the world today!!! sachin? ponting?mulri? asif? johnson? na they dont come close!!!!

  • POSTED BY soumyas on | June 18, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    i love watching steyn's incutters which pluck the stumps even after wickets r fully covered by the batsmen. batsmen go clueless... looking back and front, and go back to pavilion.... steyn's revers swinging deliveries r very rarely scene in cricket world nwdays... only waqar used to do it.

  • POSTED BY AndrewWI on | June 18, 2010, 7:06 GMT

    I second that one! With the quality of fast bowling in such a decline , it is so refreshing to see Steyn charging in.

  • POSTED BY swartshaun on | June 18, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    Steyn is by far the best bowler in the world at this moment. Another rare thing is that he is doing it in all three versions of the game. Saw him bowl at 155 km/h plus in the IPL. Only hope that for REAL fast bowling (150 plus) south-africa manages him well and dont over use him because of his effectiveness.

  • POSTED BY on | June 18, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    Just one comment about something that always irks me. Why is average in wins always considered an important statistics? I think this is the most misleading statistic that keeps appearing in cricket analyses. Unlike conditions like opposition, home/away, 1st/2nd innings, a win is not a condition that applies when a player is performing and therefore cannot indicate a more or less demanding condition.

    If anything, filtering by matches won creates a strong bias in the sample. Any team wins more against weaker oppositions (Bangaladesh instead of Australia) and in easier conditions (like home instead of away). So a good average in matches drawn or lost may be a better indicator of a player's resilience. So I think we should stop applying this filter.

  • POSTED BY Shafaet on | June 18, 2010, 8:52 GMT

    Steyn is not a legend in making, he is a legend, a fearsome fast bowler who will rule the world in this decade and will produce fairy tales one after another.