February 8, 2013

Hail Dale

It's time to acknowledge that Steyn is among the all-time great fast bowlers

There must be a reason why South Africa are knocking teams over for scores normally seen in the first round of a local inter-school tournament. And, in relative terms, finishing matches as quickly. Quite apart from having four batsmen (Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers) who might feature in their all time top ten (now there's a list in itself!) they have three bowlers - Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel - who between them take a wicket every seven overs, and are forming a team that threatens to be among the best in recent times (my vote for the last similar trio is Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie).

The leader of their attack sends a tingle down the spine of most batsmen and makes spectators sit on the edge of their seats. It is human nature to underrate the present and grossly overrate the past, but if you outlaw that trait, the time has come to place Steyn among the greatest fast bowlers of the game.

He's going at over five wickets a Test (323 from 63), averages under 25 (22.67) and takes a wicket in less than 50 balls (40.8). Those numbers for bowling averages and strike rates are acknowledged to be possessed by the best, and if you add another cut-off (25 Tests, to take away the anomaly of one or two great years only), he makes the top ten on any criterion. (In the lists that follow, I looked at bowlers since the Second World War, since the numbers of those who played before then are terribly skewed, almost suggesting that batsmen took a bat along like a senior citizen might a walking stick: only in case of an emergency!)

So looking purely at strike rates the hall of fame for fast bowlers has Dale Steyn, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Malcolm Marshall, Allan Donald, Colin Croft, Fred Trueman, Joel Garner, Richard Hadlee and Michael Holding. And if you choose the bowling average as your preferred indicator, the list changes, but only somewhat. Alan Davidson, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Curtly Ambrose, Neil Adcock (perhaps he wasn't mourned as much as he should have been: 104 wickets at 21), Fred Trueman, Glenn McGrath, Allan Donald, Richard Hadlee and Dale Steyn. Only one player who is on both lists is playing today, and he is enriching our game.

There are few sights more thrilling in sport than a fast bowler in full flow running in. And thrilling is only one of many words you could use to describe Steyn when he is in rhythm.

He doesn't look like a gym addict. Indeed, he is more Daniel Craig than Hulk Hogan - wiry and athletic. As were Brett Lee and Malcolm Marshall. And every time I see him, I am reminded of what Michael Holding told me about fast bowling many years ago. He had asked if he could borrow my t-shirt to do a piece to camera (on-air branding, remember!) and when I expressed surprise that a fast bowler should fit into my t-shirt, he reminded me about how fast bowling was not about size but about rhythm. ("Never wore an 'L', Haasha, never," he laughed.) The days he bowled at his quickest was when he didn't realise he was bowling quick, he said.

It is so with Steyn too. Possessed of an action that doesn't place too much strain on him and is easily reproduced, he allows himself to get into an excellent rhythm. And when the ball snakes away from the right-hander at pace, cricket is a game to be enjoyed by everyone but the man at the other end.

It is human nature to underrate the present and grossly overrate the past, but if you outlaw that trait, the time has come to place Steyn among the greatest

And he wants to bowl fast. They are a bit like fighter pilots, these fast bowlers, looking down at anything that dilutes the thrill. (When asked if he would fly commercial aircraft for several times his salary, my cousin who flew MIGs sneered and said, "Anyone can fly that, even the plane itself.") These guys will sneer too if you ask them to run up and bowl medium pace at three-quarter lengths. It is a more comfortable life, like flying a jetliner, but it isn't them.

Many years ago, when Waqar Younis was still a tearaway and one of the great sights in the game, he went to play in England, where the importance of a steady line and length was being impressed on him. "Naw" he said (and he was still shaking his head sideways in the interview, looking back), "I don't do that. I am a fast bowler." Steyn, for all his accuracy, is a fast bowler. It is Philander who does that other job (and mighty well too for South Africa).

And it doesn't seem to matter what form of the game Steyn is playing. His over to Richard Levi in the last IPL was, to me, the highlight of the event. The ball came fast, straight, and snaked away from the batsman at the very last minute, with the bat, as often happens in such situations, completely irrelevant.

Three hundred and twenty-three wickets don't look as daunting as they might have done when Fred Trueman was huffing and puffing his way to 307. Is 500 possible? Steyn is 30 now, and at a stage when every year matters. South Africa don't play Tests from March to November. Maybe his body will ask questions, maybe he will have to do line and length. Or maybe he will only play for as long as he can bowl fast, for as long as he can be in the cockpit of the fighter jet, and not worry too much about the three-quarter length and about "putting it there" at 132 kph. Till he is doing that, Dale Steyn will be the bowler of his generation.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • wakaPAK on February 11, 2013, 17:22 GMT

    Dale Steyn is the best bowler in the present era but we have to be careful when we compare him to all time greats. There's no beautiful scene in cricket right now than the outswingers he produces at deadly pace but let's just go back to 90s...If I have to compare some one to Wasim and Waqar who produced such outstanding stats in both ODIs and Tests and the fact that those results came mostly on dead subcontinental pitches is just awesome. If subcontinental batsmen are tagged as flat track bullies then the fast bowlers on those pitches must be incredible. I dont think ODI stats count much but for a bowler, bowling in ODI is also a big challenge and Steyn's stats are a bit lighter in ODIs. These are observations which favor W&W and I'm sure there are certain things which favor Steyn but we should be careful when comparing one generation with other. That said, I'm sure he'll go down as one of the all time greats in history.

  • just_Test_lover on February 11, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Hope Cricket SA organise some more test matches in mid year or Oct. we can't be the best team and play 6 tests a year.

  • shovwar on February 11, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    Wow how greatly said "It is human nature to underrate the present and grossly overrate the past' beautiful quote...and is so TRUE.....thank u Harsha

  • crashed on February 11, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    I think our current problem is our batters do not get enough practice if we win with an innings - maybe the one reason smith decided to bat and not force the follow on. The bowlers is taking the wickets so fast that our batters suffers for it :p

  • on February 10, 2013, 15:42 GMT

    I agree with Harsha. Steyn is definitely one of the all time great fast bowlers,.

  • vpk23 on February 10, 2013, 13:28 GMT

    A just article. Attitude comes foremost for a tearway fast bowler and combined that with his natural skills it is as potent a weapon in itself like a ram rod Black Mamba. Awesome stuff Dale!!. Its how he keeps the intensity going for every delivery, every over which stands out like a beacon. Truly Edge of the Cliff rather Harsha...Great!

  • diri on February 10, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    @fastbowling and all the other people commenting saying that steyns average and strike rate is good because he plays most of his games in SA conditions...well in the same light we can say that if Jaques Kallis played most of his cricket in india (flat wickets) he would have an avearge of over 65 with more hundreds and runs than Sachin Tendulkar...Kallis would be the god of cricket and not Tendulkar??? am I right?? anyway I still think Kallis is the MVP in world cricket and the greatest cricketer of all time. its only in 20 years time when you look back you will realize I am right....KING KALLIS is the best.

  • crashed on February 10, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    Even the great Glenn McGrath were knocked off the number 1 ranking spot a few times during his career. Though he got back to it eventually he did not stay there for the whole period he were number 1 since he got to number 1 the first time. I do not say it will not happen to Steyn (since he got already competition in Philander that is closing in on that number 1 spot). However since Steyn got to the number 1 position nobody else has been able to take him off that position (yet) and that says a lot of his accomplishments. Not to take away anything from what other bowlers accomplished in the same time, it were just not good enough to take the number 1 spot away from Steyn. A great player and I for 1 will be at the Centurion match to support the Proteas in the last test - hopefully get some signatures too lol. Note to self be there on Day 2 ;) Just for interesting sake next test is at the home ground of Philander, Steyn, Smith and Kallis. Philander did destroy the NZ team there Good Luck.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 10, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    @Tests_always_66 I couldnt have said it better myself if I tried. You summed everything up perfectly and in full perspective.

  • Tests_always_66 on February 10, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    The best fast bowler, I have seen. Funny that people always believe a current player needs to prove more, more of what 323 wickets, blistering rate of 41, which is actually unreal, at a pedantic averge of only 22. oh, and btw only been the number 1 bowler in the world for 4 years. He is not as good as the west indian bowlers was, he's better, he bowls in an era where the pitches and commercial viability dictates that matches should go the distance, he would be banned on pitches as in the eighties as he would just spoil the game for all, we don't want the game over in 2 days and bones broken, it wouldn't be cricket. Please give the guy the label he deserves, he is already a great. Do yourself a favour and attend a match while he is still around, the whole stadium feels the tension, from side-on the wicketkeeper seems miles away and the ball flies with a thump into his gloves as if to suggest he is still to close. mmm..nothing better

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 10, 2013, 6:02 GMT

    When we look to the history books nostalgia fills the air and this is largely dye to commentators/writers who played or grew up watching the game back then. But what about now? The best way to judge a talent in his era is to compare him against his competitors, its plain for everyone to see that no one has come cliae to dale steyn for over years. Lets not forget the batsmen friendly pitches and advancement in technology that gives his achievements even more reason for celebration. God save fast bowlers, god save dale steyn.

  • on February 10, 2013, 2:02 GMT

    Just shows how good he is that there is so much concentration on single aspects of his record to show he is not great ! really an average of 22ish not good???? how many bowlers playing today can boast an average 23 an under? In Ambrose's 2nd match there were 4 bowlers with averages that low kinda shows it wasnt as uncommon then as it is now - rather than take 1 aspect how bout take all together and then see? 323 at a SR of 41 and ave of 22ish in this day and age is a GREAT record

  • crickketlover on February 10, 2013, 1:42 GMT

    Harsha did a great job by writing a timely article about greatness of Steyn - the best fast bowler of this genaration.

  • on February 9, 2013, 20:44 GMT

    From All times great to Daniel Craigs Resemblance , My every thought matches with Harsha !!!! Looks like we are synced up on this \m/ cheers !!!!!

  • BillyCC on February 9, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    @Surlycynic, agreed. That Oval match is a good example. Would have been a draw if everyone was 25% slower in taking wickets. And yes, I too look at the bowling average as the ultimate stat for comparison. Strike rate is important but second order. Curtly Ambrose took 1 wicket every 54.5 balls, which is almost 2.5 overs less than Steyn and yet Ambrose was by no means a non-matchwinner nor was he a player who suffered from draws that could have been wins. I'd still take his 20.99 average any day over a 22.67. Steyn of course has a good chance to improve his standing amongst the all time greats.

  • on February 9, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    dale steyn is very similar to brett lee but with far less injuries. Brett lee was a touch quicker than steyn but their bowling styles are very similar. Both will go down as one of the best in the world.

  • m_ilind on February 9, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    SA has a rich tradition of producing fast bowlers, because their wickets are conducive to pace. It's the subcontinental teams like India/Pak who despite having placid flat wickets are able to produce bowlers like Kapil, Srinath, Akram, Waqar etc. They need to be appreciated more for their remarkable achievements with the ball, IMHO.

  • HellDiver on February 9, 2013, 17:49 GMT

    Undoubtedly Steyn is an amazing bowler and by the time he retires, will be considered among the top 5-10 fast bowlers of all time. However, its a bit premature to compare his average and strike rates with other fast bowlers. Fat bowlers, barring exceptions, tend to fade as they age. Even Steyn once possessed a strike rate in the high thirties and now its in the low forties, so lets wait for him to retire before comparing his stats with others. Nevertheless, he has been without a doubt the best fast bowler since Glenn McGrath retired.

  • aarifboy on February 9, 2013, 17:29 GMT

    ICC changed rules of fast bowling when Wasim and Waqar arrived on scene,they have again modified rules to allow two bouncers in an over now. Steyns, Lillies, Marshells all played on bowler friendly wickets and with rules of fast bowling in their favor.The impact which 2Ws and Shoaib Akhtar created on fast bowling is incomparable.

  • aahahaa on February 9, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    In this age of helmets and padding and flat pitches and bouncer laws Dale Steyn's strike rate of 5 a test is commendable. this game is more about fast bowling to me and he is one of the very best that I have seen over the years and that includes the WI quartet, Lillee and Sir Hadlee. pure poetry in motion.

  • on February 9, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    Coud'nt agree with you more he iz arguably the greatest fast bowler of all time he is one of the finest swing bowler of this century look at his stats he is jst 29 can play 7 or 8 years more and when he eventually hang his boots may be who knows he may be the highest wicket takers of test cricket....

  • on February 9, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    The Phalaborwa Express!!!

  • SurlyCynic on February 9, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    @BillyCC: I agree that a lot of SA's recent victories have been quick. And tbh I also look at average first. But to give one recent example of the importance of strike rate, at the Oval vs England last year the match effectively ended 4 overs after tea (tea was delayed as Eng were 9 down).

    Increasing a strike rate from 40 to 50 is a 25% increase in time taken to bowl the opposition out. If all SA's bowlers had taken 25% longer for each wicket in that match it would have been a draw and a psychological boost to England after conceding 630-2. I know that strike rates were much higher on that flat pitch, but when looking at a career average strike rate it includes days like that as well as the 45 all outs.

    So yes, average is most important, but a career strike rate of 40 is a lot better than one of 50.

  • BillyCC on February 9, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    @SurlyCynic, perhaps meaningless is too harsh a word but in the order of magnitudes that I'm talking about, it doesn't matter. 1 wicket per 50 balls is a great figure already. A bowler with that strike rate will have plenty of opportunities to take enough wickets. The original comment related to whether the average or strike rate is more important. The game has always been based on the number of runs conceded against the number of wickets taken. I take your point that strike rate can mean converting draws into wins. Happy to be proven wrong, but many of the Steyn-related victories have come quickly and ended without South Africa forcing victory deep into the final session on the fifth day.

  • SurlyCynic on February 9, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    @BillyCC: I've never come across anyone who thinks strike rate is meaningless in tests, perhaps you're thinking of timeless tests where time was no issue. But even then there are advantages to a better strike rate.

    If you get wickets more quickly then you are going to expose vulnerable middle/lower order batsmen to a newer ball. When the pitch is doing a bit on day 1 (many pitches these days only have life for the seamers on day 1) then getting wickets quicker means the middle order come in on a livelier pitch. Getting the opponents out sooner means that your bowlers bowl less overs, meaning they are fresher for the next innings/test, and your batsmen spend less time in the field before batting.

    Above all you have more chance of winning as opposed to drawing.

    So no, a strike rate of 50 is not "as good as a strike rate of 40 by simple logic".

  • on February 9, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    When you think about great batsmen of recent times like tendulkar, Sehwag, Clarke, Ponting.... I cant really think of any other bowler that has challenged, and convincingly beaten them on their own turf. We should not put pressure on Steyn with talk about greatness, let him finish his career off in a few years time - and then look back at what he had achieved. At the current rate, he should get to 500 test wickets in his career. On the topic of pace vs. Line and Length, Dale has the fastest ball bowled in the IPL thus far at 156km/h. I think what makes him so good, is that he can sum up a pitch, realise when to use the speed, and when to use the accuracy, and on the days he has both going - nobody wants to be facing him. Thoroughly enjoy watching him. If this South African bowling attack had a Shane Warne in his prime to compliment the seamers, it could possibly be called the best of all time.

  • crashed on February 9, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    @Amol_Ind_SA because then we ALL watch the rugby season :p

  • BillyCC on February 9, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    @Ryan Stephen, you're trying to manufacture an absurd situation. There is no guarantee that Steyn would have done any better in Adelaide, in fact, he did quite poorly from a strike rate perspective - 4 wickets at a strike rate of 61. Your thinking is too short term. Over a full career, a strike rate of 50 is as good as a strike rate of 40 by simple logic. There are 450 overs in a match that can be used. And if you really think a strike rate is so important, then tell me which Test wins that Steyn has been involved in where South Africa have won deep in the final day and Steyn has made quickfire contributions and his partners have struggled at the other end. I haven't done the analysis myself but South Africa have usually won quickly with plenty of overs to spare when Steyn has been on fire. I'm sure they could spare an extra 10 or even 20 balls per wicket.

  • on February 9, 2013, 11:22 GMT

    The name is Steyn!!! Dale Steyn.... Huh , Hollywood might be considering a movie based on the atrocities he does with the batsmen, considering cricket is a batsmen dominated game and the subcontinent" Batting Billionaires" who make the run getting business so easy . The story line might well have the BCCI as the ultimate criminal organisation pitted for the batsmen friendly pitches and against UDRS , and a certain Mr. Steyn will be employed by others to demolish this organisation .

  • on February 9, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    And he is excellent in the field unlike others . Hail Dale!

  • harshthakor on February 9, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    In terms of pure statistics Dale Steyn is arguably the best pace bowler ever if you consider his strike rate is better than Marshall or Hadlee.However today much more test cricket is played so it would be unfair to rate Steyn above say Ambrose ,Mcgrath or Akram ,who were all marginally greater masters of the all-round bowling art.Steyn still has to develop his versatlity to optimum heights ,particularly with the slower ball .

  • Amol_Gh on February 9, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    My ONLY objection is...WHY ???!!!...dont SA play from March to November ???!!!! WHY ???!!!

  • harshthakor on February 9, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    Dale Steyn ranks right up there with the likes of great paceman of all time like Lillee,Marshall,Hadlee,Akram etc.In an era where pitches are not conducive to fast bowling and rules are laid down in favour of the batsman his statistical figures are truly outstanding.He combines devastating speed with subtle swing both in the air and off the pitch.It is a photo finish between Dale Steyn and Alan Donald for the best South African paceman ever.An icon in the modern game which has lost much of it's old art and charm.

  • Nutcutlet on February 9, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    Harsha, you are wrong to dismiss pre-war cricket (in fact, as a student of the game, I'm surprised that you do). The figures before 1939 are not 'terribly skewed' (rather emotive language, that). Suggesting that all-time greats (Bradman, Hobbs, Hammond, McCabe, George Headley, Victor Trumper, Frank Woolley, Gilbert Jessop, Clem Hill, to name but few) carried bats like walking sticks, in case of emergency - is plain disrespectful, &, I suspect, a case of letting your keyboard run away with you. I realise that first class & Test cricket in India was in its infancy in the 1930s, but an airy wave of your metaphorical walking stick at the mist before 1945 is not worthy of a leading writer on cricket in the 21st Century. Our game has an extraordinary & rich past & dismissing it, or belittling the achievements of those distant days when wickets were uncovered, when batsmen had the most rudimentary protection, etc, is something you should resist. No great writer of cricket would stoop to that.

  • kharidra on February 9, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    Quality wicket keeper catches and quality slip Catches and catching the airy hook shot go a long way in providing the kind of support a fast bowler needs to showcase skills. The statistical returns for the efforts of a fast bowler are many a times lost when such quality fielding support is lacking. There have been many a fast bowling careers that have been ruined with broken backs as a dropped catch on placid pitches leads to such back breaking efforts going abegging literally leaving the bowler crestfallen. There must be a statistical analysis of the impact of crucial catch missed. For on the placid pitches even someone like the Dale has been at times the forlorn figure having a clueless disposition as the ball is deposited to all parts of the park.It is the pressure points in a match that a fine ball comes in and goes abegging with batsman either narrowly beaten or batsman reprieved through a missed catch for which the fast bowler pays heavily.Dropped catches on lively pitch ignored.

  • on February 9, 2013, 6:46 GMT

    Yeah!!! World was waiting for this article!!!

  • on February 9, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    If anyone can write prose on the game of cricket, it sure is Harsha Bhogle. Reading him is sheer pleasure. Reading him writing about Dale Steyn, AWESOME.

  • on February 9, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    Dale steyn is the premier fast bowler in the world today. Morkel the workhorse is getting frustrated because of not getting wickets. Philander has a lot to prove. Definitely this combination is the best in the world today.

  • on February 9, 2013, 6:01 GMT

    Paul Rone Clark: It's fine to pick selective stats about a player (Which aren't quite correct either, he doesn't average 30 against SL & Aus) But remember that we can just as easily do the same to other players. Now you have given me licence to disregard Dennis Lillee as being any good because of his record in India. Why not apply the same to Tendulkar and say his record in SA is not good enough? You can pour cold water on just about any player in the world like that.

    So when you only do it to one player, it doesn't tell me that this player is worse, it only tells me that you are personally against this particular player.

  • on February 9, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    BillyCC: "There's no difference between a bowler who can strike at 40 balls per wicket vs a bowler who can strike at 50 balls per wicket"

    Sorry but you ruin your credibility with that statement. There's a reason why strike rate, or balls per wicket, is a statistic commonly referred to. What if your team needs to bowl out a team quickly when the opposition are playing for a draw? How about if Australia had a faster strike rate when Faf Du Plessis and AB De Villiers were happy to block their way to a draw in Adelaide? Do you still think it doesn't matter?

  • on February 9, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    Dale Steyn will always be remembered as a fine test match bowler and as a professional cricketer that's what you want. The Test Cricket is what you want to see and play.

  • crashed on February 9, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    December 26-30, 2008

    3-5 April, 2008

    India buckle to pace A vaunted Indian batting order crumbles to 76 all out to Steyn & Co. in less than two hours on the first day in Ahmedabad. His figures are 8-2-23-5, including the ball of the day to dismiss Rahul Dravid. The performance lifts him to No. 1 in the Test bowling rankings.

    Historic high for South Africa South Africa complete their 'greatest year' in cricket, winning a Test series in Australia. Steyn stars in the win at the MCG: besides bagging five wickets in each innings, he's involved in a game-shaping 180-run tenth-wicket stand with JP Duminy.

    February 6-9, 2010

    Masterclass in Nagpur

    A lethal display of swing bowling sends India tumbling from 192 for 3 to 233 all out in the first innings in Nagpur. His 7 for 51 rips out two batsmen with conventional swing before a spell of 3.4-2-3-5 with the old ball completes the job.

    June 10-13, 2010

    Steyn crushes West Indies

    Another Test, another five-for at Trinibad

  • on February 9, 2013, 4:34 GMT

    He is a treat to watch when in full flow. He gives the same pleasure to your eyes as SRT straight drives used to do some years back !!! His four overs against MI in the last years IPL were the best bowling display i have ever seen, it was a delight to watch him....He along with Brett Lee to me are one of the best athletes in their league........

  • Rakesh_Sharma on February 9, 2013, 4:31 GMT

    Dale Steyn iis one of the best sensational bowler along with Malcom Marshall.If he remains fit he should have atleast 450 wickets. By the way Harsha he is 29 year old and not 30. If your logic applies, Tendulkar is 40 year old but you always call him still as 39 year old.

  • SShriniwas on February 9, 2013, 3:20 GMT

    steyn is just awesome!interesting fact is out of his last 483 overs bowled there are only three no balls involved ...what a great feat....and his swing with that kind of pace makes test cricket alive

  • on February 9, 2013, 2:11 GMT

    He can finish by going at Hadlee's. Period. Certainly an all time best.

  • youfoundme on February 9, 2013, 2:01 GMT

    He will undoubtedly go down as the best of his generation, and should count himself lucky to not be plagued by injury. It's a shame Shane Bond only just misses out on the qualifications set in place, but longevity is apart of the gig as well I suppose.

  • bulldo on February 9, 2013, 1:49 GMT

    True. and an honest write on styne . his record is phenomenon. i am also happy for Philander as he s not in IPL. it s very true that we overrate past cricketers. true they lived in dire circumstances

  • From-Toronto on February 9, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    I think Steyn and co is going to rip-apart Indian batting later this year, another white wash is on the cards

  • BillyCC on February 9, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    @Saffie1987, we're talking about Test cricket, the game with 450 overs across 5 days. There's no difference between a bowler who can strike at 40 balls per wicket vs a bowler who can strike at 50 balls per wicket. I'd happily more 1.5 overs more and give away less runs in doing so. And I'm sure most cricketers would agree. Not sure where you're getting other ideas from. Last I checked, a bowling analysis always starts with number of wickets and number of runs eg. Steyn's 11 for 60 odd runs. Because that's what cricket is all about. I couldn't care less whether Steyn took 11 for 60 in 20 overs or 30 overs. You have a valid point if we are talking ODIs and T20s + if you consider the entertainment factor. But that's not what it's all about. Of course, Dale Steyn will probably finish as the greatest matchwinner in Test cricket (barring some dramatic loss of form). That's what the strike rate tells you. But there are other factors at play in determining where he ranks among the greats.

  • on February 9, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    Mr Bhogle claims that "It is human nature to underrate the present and grossly overrate the past". I would argue the precise opposite - if that were the case we wouldn't have fans claiming that Tendulkar is better than Bradman, or selecting Kapil Dev in an all time XI ahead of Sobers. He then goes on to grossly underrate the past with his sweeping statement about batsmen of the pre-WWII era. The likes of Grace, Trumper, Hill, Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Hammond, Headley, Ponsford, McCabe and above all Bradman "took a bat along like a senior citizen might a walking stick: only in case of an emergency", did they?

    Steyn is without a doubt a world class player - head and shoulders above any other fast bowler operating today, and at least worthy of comparison to greats of previous eras; but if trying to judge the greatest ever, why ignore the first six decades of Test history?

  • fastbowling on February 9, 2013, 0:19 GMT

    Someone please comment on his one-day record. That's what is preserving him for Test, however one-day is as much an art for fastbowlers as Test. You have to conquer all formats to be in the same league as Mcgrath and Wasim.

  • on February 9, 2013, 0:10 GMT

    why was wasim akram not included in this list? dale is great for this generation but batsmen were better back then to! but those bowlers still found ways to get them out. i do think people over hype the past but with good reason. Mohammad amir was not underestimated and if he was still playing he would be best right now.

  • Doogius on February 8, 2013, 23:46 GMT

    Pre-WW2 and batsmen used bats as an emergency??? Don't suppose you've heard of Don Bradman??? As any cricketer worth his salt will tell you, you respect the deeds of the older generation but comparing between eras is laughable. Pitches, rules, DRS, umpiring quality, batting quality etc etc all are different. Steyn would succeed during any era, he's that good and more importantly, he's an excellent role model to any kid watching the game.

  • philvic on February 8, 2013, 23:13 GMT

    To those who question Steyn's greatness because he has not excelled against the might of England, lets look at Shane Warne's (yes the Shane Warne thought by many to be the best spinner EVER) record against India - 14 matches, average 41.18, SR 91.2! Get a grip.

  • 12thUmpire on February 8, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    RE: Pitch conditions for South African attack, getsetgopk on (February 8, 2013, 4:55 GMT)

    England exposed Bopara to Saffa attack under English conditions. Aussies learnt, didn't expose Phil Hughes to Saffa attack under Aussie conditions. Pakistan had no choice, but expose some of their batsman to Saffa attack under South African conditions…Wonder what God must be thinking about the prospect of facing the Saffa attack under South African conditions…

  • telemarkskier on February 8, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    Steyn is truly deserving to be at the same table as Hall and Trueman, Marshall and Roberts and Holding and Lilli and Thomson. The tussles between Tendulkar and Steyn have been ones for the ages. The best bowler vs the best batsman.

  • Chris_Howard on February 8, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    I'm Aussie and I reckon Steyn, Philander and Morkel are better than McGrath, Lee and Gillespie. Of course, Australia did have the luxury of some Warne fella, so still rate better as a bowling quartet than anything SA can offer.

  • Saffie1987 on February 8, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    @ Billycc: I am afraid you are wrong mate! The Strikerate is regarded as a more important factor, then the average! The higher the strikerate, the more wickets you get! And taking wickets wins you games! Of course it's nice to have a good average, and to not give too many runs away, but with Dale Steyn averaging 22.67 and having a strikerate of 40.8, it means if he continues like this, he will become the greatest fast bowler of All-Time!

  • BillyCC on February 8, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    @Xolile, good analysis. The strike rate is incredible and indeed Bradmanesque. But the average is not Bradmanesque when compared to the best of the best. And the average always trumps the strike rate amongst both batsmen and bowlers. Regardless, Steyn is now firmly amongst the all-time great fast bowlers, and let's see where he finishes up.

  • BillyCC on February 8, 2013, 20:46 GMT

    Steyn has proven himself to be among the all-time greats in fast bowling. Where he ranks currently is a matter of opinion. In the last 20 years, I believe he's behind Ambrose and McGrath. Still, that can change with another three years of what he has been producing. His problem area has been consistency and stringing together consistent performances across innings and consecutive test matches. That is starting to improve as well, so good on him.

  • on February 8, 2013, 20:42 GMT

    I disagree somewhat about the wanting to run in and bowl fast. Dale is even better than that, a tearaway in his younger days maybe, but watch his now regularly you will see him drop the speed down and focus on bowling those beautiful outswingers that he does at a lesser pace. Then when the situation calls for it he will run in and bowl flat out and beat the batsmen for pace, he is better than a traditional quick bowler, he is fast and is smart and adaptable .

  • MrGarreth on February 8, 2013, 20:31 GMT

    Robin Jackman said it best when he said that the most efficient way of judging a player is by seeing how much better he was than those that played with and against him for most of his career. Steyn is statistically head and shoulders above his bowling peers. Enough said really.

  • alarky on February 8, 2013, 20:31 GMT

    I think that Dale Steyn is a very good bowler. However, we need to be careful when it comes to rating him among the "All Time Greats". I know that he has had some good figures in his time; but I don't think that he has encountered any really great batsmen during his time - the Indian line up might be the best he has bowled against so far, but we also know that they are all flat track bullies. I think that the best "all round" batsman to whom he has ever bowled in Kevin Pietersen; and I was shocked to see how KP demolished him in England last summer. The new hype being created about his exploits against this touring Pakistani team is no yardstick to use to judge his ability. They don't even have one world class batsman!

  • on February 8, 2013, 20:03 GMT

    RESPECT for Steyn. More than anything else his attitude is what counts. A batsman will be forced to think that here is a guy coming who has the fast bowler's attitude and will do everything he can to hit that 145 mark. And what will worry his is the fact that 145 is dished up with immaculate line and length and swing! Tremendous!

  • Ammar72 on February 8, 2013, 19:45 GMT

    he is really the best fast bowler at the moment. No doubt about it. Also he is worthy to be included in great bowlers list of all time as well. But please let me mention that without any criticism intended, its a fact - which is being missed by almost all fans, experts etc. in the flow of his masterful performances - that he has got success thru "outswingers", balls that snake away from right-handers...but .what appears to be not on display is the "INSWINGER", deadly incoming missile, tore-crusher - attribute that should be in armoury of a "complete" fast bowler...

  • nlambda on February 8, 2013, 19:33 GMT

    Steyn's great fortune is that he was never coached by Venkatesh Prasad and the other honchos at the MRF pace academy. If he had, right now he would be bowling 120 KMPH to "preserve" himself...

  • VikasKashyap on February 8, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    Thanks Harsha! for yet another must read article. Saw Steyn live when he was bowling (full steam - as always) against Deccan Chargers at Bangalore. RCB was again looking down the barrel and from nowhere they were in the game, courtesy Steyn. The respect grew as I followed him whenever and wherver he played. I have waited for days, in long queues to see our batsmen score and they have dissapointed occassionally but would have played great in the next match which I cannot see it Live. Dale Steyn on the other hand, be it T20, ODI or Test, when you switch on TV or you walk into a stadium he is running in full steam and wicket keeper is standing very close to the 30yard circle. The entire match can be boring but this guy when he is in action you are never short of excitement. Be it fielding too he gives everything and a treat to watch. Steyn - Its a previlege to watch you as you are a great talent and have a great attitude.

  • on February 8, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    the fact that Philander had a once in a life time calender year but Steyn and Morkel still kept their own says a lot about these two men....especially Dale Steyn...his just top of the range...I have seen ambrose, welsh, pollock, donald, ntini, younis, akram, akthar. mcgrath, lee, gillespi bowl and dominate teams but this S.A attack is awesome especially in an era bat dominates ball...steyn is just vicious, philander is the least intimidating but just gets the ball to do that something and Morkel delivers from a scary hieght...couple that with Kallis who still bowls close to 140s, gets awkward bounce and movement both ways

  • fastbowling on February 8, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    While there is no doubt about his test record here is a little info on his one day career. (96 Wickets at 29). Waqar has similar Test record but also 416 Wicket at 23. Steyn bowled roughly 3k bowls in one day where as Waqar bowled 12k. That does help keep Steyn very injury free for Test matches. One day cricket cannot be discounted as it has been a great entertainment for most cricket fans.

  • Thamara on February 8, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    He is a magnificent bowler. He is really passionate about cricket. You can see it when he takes a wicket regardless of the team which he plays for. Not only can he bowl fast, but also he has a very control of the ball. South Africa has always produced great fast bowlers. Steyn will definitely go down as one of their best fast bowlers ever. At the moment, he is the best fast bowler in without a doubt. I hope he will keep up the quality of his bowling.

  • crashed on February 8, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    Some of the all time greats never played ODI or T20's but they all played Tests surely this is test figures which is posted by Harsha no use to compare steyn's ODI and T20 figures when those greats have not played them. Great article Harsha and I for 1 is glad you are comparing Steyn to the all time greats :) shows you he is considered as a class act - which he surely is and well deserving

  • pipsonian on February 8, 2013, 17:10 GMT

    He will be truly great if he performs well on ptiches that don't offer as much help to the fast bowlers i.e Sub Continent. All the bowlers on all time great list are the ones who performed well on non friendly pitches.

  • Beazle on February 8, 2013, 16:53 GMT

    The last 15 years has been ludicrously weighted in favour of batsmen ( an average of 55 really = 50 in 1984) so Steyn is defintely great.

  • nasir84 on February 8, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    Agree with all the comments here, Steyn is a fantastic bowler. but I think it is a bit of a myth that he bowls consistently fast. I've noticed that majority of the time he bowls in the early 140's, late 130's kph. He definitely has the ability to bowl extremely fast but only uses that ability sparingly. This is not a slight at all at Steyn, just an observation that he uses guile more than pace to get his wickets and because of that he will be around for a few years yet.

  • Ali_Chaudhary on February 8, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    I dont agree Mr. Bhogle. If you bowl on seaming friendly pitches you are going to get wickets cheaply. What happend to him against a very week pakistani batting line-up in UAE? If batsman has to score on bowling friendly wickets to be called good then bowlers need to perform on dead tracks to be called great. He is good no doubt but not great. There are more better bowlers around the world tha Steyn.

  • emmersonne on February 8, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    Met him twice, he's also a lovely bloke.

  • Shoobhit on February 8, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    @Muhammad Haris, hahahahahahah.............are u kidding. Do you watch cricket or baseball, let alone play. Had you ever played the cricket, this would not have come from you. Cricket to you is like Steyn's outswinger to the batsmen. Both only superficially touch each other but result in complete outdoing.

  • Nutcutlet on February 8, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    IMO, Steyn is up there with the very best. He, with the great WIndians ( Marshall, Holding, Ambrose & Walsh), Lillee, The two Pakistani Ws & from what I've gleaned from reading, Harold Larwood, are probably the best nine fast bowlers of all time. As Harsha's article tells us, Michael Holding said it was all about rhythm & that is true of all of these greats. None broke down; none spent hours pumping iron in the gym; all had careers of significant length & all were feared by the best bats of their day. There are many reasons to watch cricket played at the highest level (Test cricket, of course) & the sight of a great fast bowler at the top of his mark, the crowd hushed in expectation then the great bowler wheeling & striding out as he gathers for a lightning delivery... team sport doesn't get any better than that. Steyn commands that degree of attention; he is the one truly great fast bowler currently on view. Let's appreciate him while we can.

  • Shouldas-Wouldas-Couldas on February 8, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    Steyn's BOOMERANGing deliveries at 145kms laced with aggression, intensity, hostility surely makes him almost unplayable - batmen's nightmare ! One of the all time great fast bowler. No wonder they call him "STEYN Remover" !

  • on February 8, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    I agree with everything written about Dale Steyn in this piece and by those who have responded. We should always treasure players who lift the quality and intensity of play when directly involved and for whoever they represent. Comparisons with past players are often compelling - for example is Steyn better than Proctor - but culture and context should be borne in mind. The game has changed and will continue to do so (I hope always for the better but administrators get in the way...) but we should acknowledge greatness in whatever era and Dale Steyn is the best of this present one. May I hope thathe is one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year this year? (together with Amla, De Villiers and Philander plus (overdue) Charlotte Edwards...)

  • CaptainKool on February 8, 2013, 14:34 GMT

    "It is human nature to underrate the present and grossly overrate the past, but if you outlaw that trait, the time has come to place Steyn among the greatest". This statement says it all. Doesn't it? He is the best of all era. Period.

  • on February 8, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    not agree bowler is who,who bowled batsman like waseem, waqar,akther,lee,gul steyn only know inswing and edge give him a gift of wicket ,not a match winner and check his performance in odi and t20

  • diri on February 8, 2013, 14:09 GMT

    @fastbowling and all the other people commenting saying that steyns average and strike rate is good because he plays most of his games in SA conditions...well in the same light we can say that if Jaques Kallis played most of his cricket in india he would have an avearge of over 65 with more hundreds and runs than Sachin Tendulkar...Kallis would be the god of cricket and not Tendulkar??? am I right?? anyway I still think Kallis is the MVP in world cricket and the greatest cricketer of all time. its only in 20 years time when you look back you will realize I am right....KING KALLIS is the best.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on February 8, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    "Only one player who is on both lists is playing today, and he is enriching our game". I think this line sums things up perfectly and puts to bed any doubt of Steyn's greatness. When you look at the modern game, several batsmen have stats comparable to the greats of the past but only Steyn (and Philander although I would wait until he claims his 100th wicket) have stats comparable to the great quicks of the past. It is thus good to see accolades pouring in. When looking at the big pic, I expect Steyn to get more accolades than any current cricketer barring all-rounders like Kallis, Sahkib and Watson.

  • on February 8, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    @ Paul Rone-Clarke - selectively picking some stats (while selectively leaving others out) to suit your agenda, you'll get stats to say anything. Go get a dictionary and learn what "an average" is when applied to stats and figures. Be sure to include both words and all letters though, because if you selectively leave some out you might find a word that makes no sense at all - kinda like your post!!

  • on February 8, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    where is Wasim Akram. List is Incomeplete without him.

  • BellCurve on February 8, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    The modern day benchmark for excellence has to be Warne, McGrath, Gillespie and Lee - who between them took 1346 wickets in Test victories at a SR of 49.11. Well, so far Steyn has taken 225 wickets in Test wins at an incredible SR of 29.92. These statistics are truly Bradmanesque. It takes Steyn 99 overs to bowl out the opposition twice, whereas it took the fearsome Aussie foursome 164 overs!!! That's 65 overs less - more than two full sessions of Test cricket! (And remember Steyn is being compared to the best of the best here)

  • SurlyCynic on February 8, 2013, 12:50 GMT

    @ Desihungama: The last time SA played in Pakistan, Steyn averaged 24.6. He has an amazing record in India.

    Why do people keep posting that he doesn't bowl well in the subcontinent without even checking the stats? Bizarre.

  • SurlyCynic on February 8, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    @Paul Rone-Clarke: I can see you don't rate Steyn, fair enough that's your opinion. But everyone's record has some teams they perform better against. You are wrong to state he averages 'over 30' against Aus and SL, just check the record. 27 is not his best but in this era favouring batting it's far ahead of most other bowlers.

    Against England his stats are skewed by his debut series as a raw 21 yr old, when he averaged 52, and didn't come back into the team for over a year. In 2008 he was coming back from injury and again didn't bowl at his best avg 36. But vs England in 09/10 he averaged 23.8 (despite missing Colly's edge 300 times!) and last year in England 29.2. Now you might not rate the 29, but given the pitches I think that was excellent. Anderson averaged over 40 in the same series (and 38 overall v SA). The 5-fer to bowl out England after SA made 630-2 was exceptional bowling on a road of a pitch.

    So as an Eng fan you haven't seen the best of Steyn, but consider the context

  • akchorera on February 8, 2013, 12:37 GMT

    Dale Steyn is a great bowler, I wonder when India will have one matching his talents!

  • Saffie1987 on February 8, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    @ Imraan Matwadia: What are you talking about? Steyn blew Australia away in 2008 when South-Africa blew Australia away, and he blew India away in India against a topclass batting line-up, averaging 21 there! Even on the recent tour against England, he won the match for them at the Oval on flat pitch, what are you talking about?

  • pratit on February 8, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    The best that there is. An easily repeatable action. A strong athletic physique. But mostly his aggression, tenacity and the intelligence. His intensity is always up. Batsmen know that they cannot afford to relax and this creates great mental stress. He knows how to vary his pace. When the ball is swinging around, he lets it go at 130-135. When the ball gets old or there is reverse swing or the tailenders are facing him he invariably cranks it up to 140-148. And he hardly misses a match. Young fast bowlers definitely have a lot to learn from him.

  • MrGarreth on February 8, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    @Paul Rone-Clarke you need to go check those stats because that comment does not make you sound very intelligent. Also bear in mind that Steyn started his career against England and that is what has warped his figures. Anyone who questions Steyn's greatness must not know a lot about cricket I'm afraid. When last wasn't he number 1?? 4, 5 years ago??

  • Sanjiyan on February 8, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    To all the 'experts' who say Steyn hasnt achieved anything in the sub continent please check your stats before making yourselves look silly. Steyn has been taking wickets on every pitch around the world(some more than others) for a while now. Also bear in mind that SA tour more than they play at home so to say that hes enjoyed home condition is another overlook by some.

    We can compare stats and other details untill were all blue in the face, but at the end of the day...were all glued to the TV or internet feed when this guy is running in at full tilt. Pity SA dont play as many tests as AUS,India or ENG. and @jonsey2 i think thats the first compliment ive seen you give to anyone other than an aussie player. That says it all for me. Thanks

  • on February 8, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    his strike rate sayz it all one wicket every 29 balls woww thts whom i call a legend !! he is no.1 among bowlers frm past 4 yrs and thres no one near his level right now !! siddle can become the next dale steyn !! both are aggressive,giv their best fr the team and both hav soo gud pace !! i hope in near future siddle and mitchell johnson could giv some gud competition to dale steyn !!

  • on February 8, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    hi harsha

    taking nothing away from steyn and also that i am south african his top 5 best bowling in tests are against india (2),pakistan,new zealand and west indies.pakistan and india be it sub-continent sides have always battled against seam bowling.his recent heroics against pakistan should therefore come as no surprise,a sub-continent team in SA.all due respect to west indies and nz their batsmen are not class acts except for one or two.so yea steyn is brilliant but a performance like this against england or maybe even australia would really showcase him as the ultimate

  • Desihungama on February 8, 2013, 11:47 GMT

    I am sorry Harsha I am not ready to add Steyn to the distinguished list of Glen, Hadlee, Lillie, Imran, Waqar, Wasim, Kapil, Garner, Holding and Marshall just yet. Steyn has been most beneficiary of home grown conditions, particularly fast and bouncy pitches of South Africa. The aforementioned players took wickets in every Test playing country including the dust bowls of Faisalabad. Has Steyn accomplished that yet?

  • Ayush_Chauhan on February 8, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    Steyn epitomizes fast bowling for a cricket fan today.. enough said

  • on February 8, 2013, 11:28 GMT

    What sticks out a country mile with Dale Steyn is his absolute normality. The brashest you see him is on celebrating a dismissal where the adrenaline engulfs his entire being and resulting in a roar of triumph. I wonder how he was influenced by the likes of Holding, Marshall and Roberts who similarly just went about their business without the show-pony antics of certain other quicks? More power to his elbow I say - oh, yeah........he bowls with a straight one, doesn't he.

  • on February 8, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    Against Sri lanka, Oz and England he averages well over 30. That's not "World Class". It's good (ish) but no more. Getting bag loads of wickets against New Zealand, Bangladesh and India proves he's a demon against minnows and overweight batsmen (India) and fills his boots against poor quality batting. Good bowlers do better than he has against good teams. His average against the best teams should at LEAST be under 30 surely? It's almost 33 against England and they've played each ather a lot of times. Maybe it's just seeing him mostly against England, but I've never thought he was very good and his average against the best batting teams sort of backs that up.. Philander is a better bowler against quality batsmen when I watch SA

  • Rhygwyn on February 8, 2013, 11:18 GMT

    Uhh... Steyn most definitely has an inswinger. Just ask Sehwag. Nitpicking is all the haters have left I see.

  • Apocalypse_EX on February 8, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    A true champion: competative & fast and the best pacer in the world since Mcgrath who never had Steyn's pace. It is a bit disappointing to realize that he's already 30 and we will probabably only be able to enjoy this master at work for a while longer. But enjoy him we will.

  • on February 8, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    Seeing Steyn at his best makes me very jealous of cricket fans of the 80's and 90's. The fast bowlers on display were ample then they are rare diamonds now.

  • Jester01 on February 8, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    There have been many highlights in Dale's fantastic career so far. One of my favorite highlights was his contest with Gayle in IPL 4. Gayle hit 24 off Gony in the 2nd over but was completely bamboozled by a true champion bowler - Dale in the 3rd. They ended up knocking RCB out, with Dale getting man of the match with figures of 4-0-8-3. Lately he's lethal inswinger to right-hand batsmen seems to be coming back… bad news for the opposition. Spare a thought for the Pakistani's... Next test is Vern's home ground & Dale is getting back to his very best. If South Africa's last two test matches is anything to go by, I don't expect the next test to go more then 3-days.

  • Rhygwyn on February 8, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    I see one or two people are saying Steyn can only be great if he performs in the subcontinent... hmm... in Asia he averages 23.71 and has a SR of 39.3. Do you people even check stats before you post rubbish? Just go look at his bowling summary. Clearly one of the greats.

  • Rhygwyn on February 8, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    This article must be in response to the outcry about Mark Nicholas' article that featured Starc.

  • pranab708 on February 8, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    He really is a great bowler. Without doubt the greatest in the post-McGrath era. And surely one of the all-time greats as well. In modern times a player should be also judged for longevity which means all players considered for mention in the all-time greatest list should play at least 50 matches. I liked Harsha's comparison of fast bowlers and fighter pilots.

  • on February 8, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    And a fine article on STEYN by Harsha. He emulated the past generation's fast bowlers like Alan Davidson, Michael Holding and others. But the pertinent point here is he is the Match winner for his country. And truly the match haul at WANDERERS against Pakistan recently stands at 11 wickets for 60 runs and outstanding performance. He won the match for the 33rd time for the Proteas and stands third in terms ( Richard Hadlee, King of Swing & Imran Khan, a Charismatic leader of Pakistan) of bowling average of 15.79 and strike rate of 29.9. He took 39 wickets in ten tests at 29.71 average. Harsha correctly writes that he simply bowls fast and a fearsome bowler on the earth now. So, all hail Steyn.

  • NixNixon on February 8, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    Jason Gillespie sr 54.96, av 26.14, w 259 Brett Lee sr 53.33, av 30.82, w 310

    Morne Morkel sr 54.94, av 29.94, w 173

    DALE STEYN sr 40.85, av 22.68 w 323

    WHAT DOES THESE STATS TELL YOU 1) Gillespie and Lee were avergae , not great, their record is on par with Morne Morkel

    2) Dale Steyn superior to these guys.

    3) People should get their facts straight before they automatically blow the performances of these ausies out of proportion.

    So if you keep making execuses as to why steyn is not one of the best then guys like lee and gillespie were probably pathetic judging from their figures when compared to steyn.

  • on February 8, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    In my opinion he still sits below the top echelon of fast bowlers for one reason only, he doesn't have an in swinger with the new ball. He can swing the old ball both ways. Sounds harsh, but we are talking about the pinnacle here.

    For example take his compelling battle with Sachin in Cape Town 2011 as alluded to above. He owned Sachin with his outswinger, and beat the outside edge numerous times. However Sachin kept his cool, played the line of the ball and used every inch of his skill to combat the away swing. Then as the ball got older, Steyn couldn't bowl forever and Sachin got stronger. I was screaming at the TV to bowl an in-swinger, it was crying out for it. Sachin was banking on Steyn only beating one side of the bat, he would have not been able to play the way he did with the ball going both ways. Jimmy Anderson, although a lesser bowler, would have had Sachin in those conditions.

    It was also evident against Pakistan's tailenders. There weren't good enough to nick his jaffas

  • NixNixon on February 8, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    Always amazing to see how the cricketing world blows the perfromances of ausies out of proportion and fails to recognise when other teams have legend players. Someone here compared steyn to brett lee HAHAHA. Are you serious mate! Brett Lee's record is on par with someone like M Morkel, steyn blows Lee out of the water. Its amazing that you always hear the ausies saying "yes steyn is good BUT, there is always a BUT, but he still has years to play to prove himself, but in the same breath someone like starc plays well in one or two games and then suddenly he is in the league of steyn. So what ...the ausie players need not play years to be recognised as great....one or two games is enough?? Steyn has been bowling superbly for years now...sorry mates but no matter how you look at it steyn blows away your bowlers of yesteryear! Before you blow up the perfromances of lee and gillespie go look at the records, they were good but not great!

  • Muthu_Team on February 8, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    Excellent Article... All Hail Steyn...

  • BellCurve on February 8, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    A strike rate of 40 is unprecedented in the 200+ Test wickets club. The difference between a strike rate of 40 and 55 - given the goal of taking 20 wickets - is a staggering 50 overs over the course of a Test match ((55-40)*20/6). That is more than half a day of Test cricket. Steyn has been the biggest contributor to SA's rise to No1. He is already a legend. I hope he can maintain his current level of performence for another 4 years.

  • on February 8, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    Steyn is very good against weak teams, but his figures agains the top flight are nothing to write home about. Decent, but not outstanding. Averaging above 32 against England and almost 28 against Australia. While those are perfectly respectable figures, they are not world class . A long way short of say a McGrath, Akram, Pollock, Ambrose etc Almost 10 points away. His figures against lesser teams flatters his overall average. Against New Zealand 58 wickets at16.7. Against Bangladesh 26 wickets at 18 and most tellungly of all against India he has 53 wickets at 18.9. 26 of those wickets at 20 runs a piece coming in India No wonder an Indian journalist thinks he is good. LOL

  • aavalentine on February 8, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Why do people keep saying he hasn't "performed" in the subcontinent when clearly his best bowling performance was in India???

    Do people actually do their research before making such claims?

  • DV8TOR on February 8, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    Steyn has well surpassed Brett Lee. Steyn has 363 wickets in 63 tests, where Lee has 310 wickets in 73 test. at 5 wickets per test(Steyn's Average), Steyn should have 413 wickets when he plays as many test as Lee, that's 103 wickets more. NO COMPARISON!!!

  • on February 8, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    It's strange because during the 90's as an England fan, I was used to the World's best fast bowlers knocking us over as a matter of regularity. However, until Summer 2012, Steyn's record against us was moderate at best, and even last summer he was good as opposed to outstanding.

    This may account for why my opinion of him is not as high as some others (although his record is brilliant).

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on February 8, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    I have always felt shane bond would have been as good as steyn , its unfortunate he had to give up to injuries , anyway DALE STEYN is a class apart from all current bowlers ! lets hope he continue in this form for rest of his career

  • on February 8, 2013, 8:27 GMT

    Harsha you're really one of those journalists who is unbiased and gives credit where it is due and as for that man,no words from me can truly express or cover what he does..

  • jonesy2 on February 8, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    but he is the benchmark right now and nothing short of an inspiration with his work ethic, fitness, slim body and not very tall stature to be able to have over 320 wickets in just over 60 tests is incredible.

  • MiddleStump on February 8, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    For me, the top rung of fast bowlers of the past 50 years I have followed this game is occupied by Marshal, Holding, Lillee, and Steyn.

  • TMS8137 on February 8, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    Without a doubt the greatest of all present-day bowlers. He might just end up having a shot at Mcgrath's record but if he drops pace it would be mighty difficult to maintain that stellar strike-rate. Hopefully morne and Philander applying pressure from the other end will help him get more wickets. We should appreciate such a great bowler and the BCCI should take notes about player management from the CSA as to how they have managed him.

  • legfinedeep on February 8, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    electric_loco_WAP4: You can't really mind the people who bring up all the known legends (Marshall, Lillee, Thomson, Wasim/Waqar, Donald etc). But people like who are mentioning Steyn in the same breath with Bond and Lee, have no business posting on a respected cricket site. Your lack of depth of knowledge of cricket is appalling. He is head and shoulders above those guys. If not in this era, 20 years from now people will be romanticizing Steyn's name and singing paeans to him the way they do for the other illustrious bowlers of years gone by.

  • Simoc on February 8, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    I'm not sure where you've been hiding Harsha but the fact that Steyn has and will always be an all time great fast bowler has been evident for years now, and acknowledged. He looks on his day as lethal as Lillee at his best and generally looks on par with Holding, Hadlee and the other I rate as best , Wasim Akram.

  • on February 8, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    Words cannot express the Joy and the Satisfaction one gets to see Protea Fast Bowling mercenaries. They are ruthless and unmerciful. I wish SA all the best to SA bowlers in their demolition act. Simply love watching you guys.... Thanks a Lot.

  • on February 8, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    Great writings by Harsha. Dale is the best bowler of his generation, no doubt about that.

  • venkatesh018 on February 8, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    For the last 12 to 15 months it looked like Steyn had lost his lethal late outswing. But his bowling against Pakistan (admittedly not the most solid batting line up) at Joburg is a signal that he is getting back to his best. He genuinely looked like the Great Fast bowler, which he is. His spell at Cape Town against India in 2011, from which only a certain Sachin Tendulkar came out unscathed is one of the rarest of the rare DVDs to be possessed. Dale will hold his own against any of the greats of the 80's from Windies or Australia.

  • on February 8, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    When you see him running him, you can actually feel the aggression exuding from inside the TV! In the same way, you can recognize from his coy smile when he is getting smacked around the park (rare) that he knows its not his day. His emotions are true and that makes him able to connect with the audience to a greater extent than any other bowler. Brett Lee had a bit of that! And whenever I see him talking to someone on TV, its just adorable how grounded he is! My favorite fast bowler! Period.

  • cheeseburgers on February 8, 2013, 7:22 GMT

    Steyn has 5- fors for all Test playing nations(barring Zimbabwe - but he is still to play a test with them if i am not wrong). Green-tops, Sub-continental flat decks, dry, dusty, give him everything - he will give his 100%. A bowler for all season. Hale Steyn!

  • philvic on February 8, 2013, 7:11 GMT

    Steyn is undoubtedly up there with the best ever. This is a batsmen friendly era and he has produced performances and statistics to match any of the greats. It is not really possible to properly rank players of different eras but there is no doubt Steyn is up there with Donald, Waqar, Marshall and Lillee. Mcgrath was more a line and length bowler who put it there and much of his success was due to Warne.

  • SherjilIslam on February 8, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    People asking questions about Styne's credibility in Sub-continent don't know the history of SA tours to India. The previous two SA tours to India were 1-1 draw largely due to the Dale Styne show.In Nagpur, he destroyed the Indian batting in a placid track in no-time.Also, his spells results mostly in winning causes. He should be placed among the all time greatest list.

  • highveldhillbilly on February 8, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    @electric_loco_WAP4 - I think you're a bit off the mark in your comments. You mention Bond, Lee, Tait, Sami Shaoib etc in your comment and state that Steyn hasn't reached the 'presence' of these bowlers. I think all these bowlers would love to be anywhere near as good as Steyn has been. He's so much better than any of the bowlers you mention. Steyn has been the best and most consistent fast bowler over the past 8 years. The only bowler that can compete is McGrath but I think Steyn is a better.

  • on February 8, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    Why is there no record for most consecutive weeks no.1 as there is in tennis? How long has Dale been the No.1 test bowler? 5 Years? Does anyone know exactly? @pauliangenius: Little support? Really? Saqlain Mushtaq, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and a not too shabby allrounder in Azhar Mahmood... If that's not support I don't know what is.

  • SunAndSea on February 8, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    Good article on a fantastic, compelling bowler. The minute Steyn said "we didn't come here to draw", the third test against Australia in Perth was won.

  • on February 8, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    Great article, as somebody pointed out, you raised the issue of people praising those who played back in the golden era and casually ignoring the current greats very well. Dale has proven himself in the subcontinent, or is 7/51 not proof enough of this? He was also the only pace bowler to have an economy rate in the Top 5 in the recent T20 which was played in Sri Lanka! LAWYERED!

  • Sajjid1992 on February 8, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    Very nice article by Harsh, interesting thing in this article is, not a single INDIAN bowler in the lists given by Harsh.

  • arkkrish on February 8, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    Doesn't the definition of best in the game include all forms of the game? Sure Steyn is a great test fast bowler and only sometimes in T20s. But in ODI's, its a different ball game. McGrath, Murali, Warne, even Brett Lee had fantastic records in both ODIs and Tests. We don't call Bevan one of the modern greats of the game because he excelled in ODIs. We don't call Ajantha Mendis one of the modern greats of the game because he is excellent in T20s. Sure Dale Steyn is a great fast bowler, even with two other fantastic bowlers putting pressure from the other end. But to call him greatest of all time? I doubt that.

  • Romanticstud on February 8, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    South Africa are the number one side in the world ... Yes we have batsmen like Kallis, Smith, Amla, De Villiers, Duminy, Du Plessis, Petersen, that have all scored hundreds ... Batting is only one part of the game of cricket ... Yes, we do have a weakness in that we do not have a match winning spinner that has established their place ... Then we have a bowling brigade Steyn and Philander are much like the great pairings of fast bowlers from by-gone eras ... Then you get a spanner in the works that is Morne Morkel that can get the ball to bounce awkwardly and if all else fails you have the Golden arm, Kallis to turn to ... So having said that, if you have a stable bowling unit on your side ... you can get sub 50 scores against your opposition ... considering the catchers behind the wicket are sublime ... AB De Villiers, Smith and again that man, Kallis ... A fast bowler needs back-up behind the stumps to get the wickets ... Unless he is hitting the stumps out the ground ...

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on February 8, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    Ha Ha,the golden age of 'modern' fast bowling ended a short while with the retirement of 'Blonde bombshell' Brett Lee..was in the early to later half of 2000s that Lee, Pindi 'express' Shoaib and Shane Bond electrified the game with pure thrill getting among the best players hopping around and it was pure box office ...The trio tested the speed guns to the limits at their very best and was mainly due to them new wave of exitement was brought .Of course bit part role played in support of this fab trio by likes of Tait,Sami , Malinga etc in express bowling stakes with them topping 150 at times 160 clicks in the radar gun...w/o matching up to the menace,class or consistency of the trio.. As to Steyn..the man himself was in awe of the these quicks when a young pacer- esp. Brett Lee by his own words dreamt of emulating his deeds at big stage -and is still long way short of making his own 'presence' as the above. Still a good bowler and rightly ranked no.1 a.t.m.. But not 'there' as yet!!

  • on February 8, 2013, 6:32 GMT


    Steyn has done pretty well in Asian conditions. He's picked up 57 wickets in 10 matches in the subcontinent. That's easily one of the best you will see from a quick including the subcontinent quicks.

  • Starboomber on February 8, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    What has he achieved in Asian pitches? His best bowling 7/51 was achieved in Asia...#enoughsaid

  • Nuxxy on February 8, 2013, 6:24 GMT

    What has Steyn done in Asia? 63 wickets, average 23.71 and strike rate 39.3 - comfortably better than most. It included an excellent 7/51 against a still good India at Nagpur. His record in Asia is better than his record in England. And his record gets even better if you only look at wins.

  • ygkd on February 8, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    That Dale Steyn sits alongside the likes of Adcock and Donald as one of the best South Africa has ever produced is without question.

  • on February 8, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    The thing i love about Steyn is the intensisty in his eyes when he bowls, when he runs up you just get the feeling he's looking to get you out

  • on February 8, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    @SyedArbabAhmed - Steyn averages 21 in Asia, much higher than both your precious Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis's career averages. Face facts he's already a far better bowler than both of them ever were.

  • prashant1 on February 8, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    Steyn is right up there. All time World XI stuff.

  • Yaadu on February 8, 2013, 6:03 GMT

    you actually realised dale styen was a champion in making when he made a mockery of sehwags stumps ( dosen't happen often lest inside edges), pitched on leg , off out of ground , in the 1st afro-asia cup in 2005 in SA

  • fastbowling on February 8, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    Please don't go crazy on me but the point I wanted to make was that Dale Steyn has one huge advantage. South African home grounds are conducive to fast bowling. If he were to have Indian wickets as home ground he might not have had as many wickets as he does.Neither is he the 150kmh+ consistency of Marshall, Waqar, Lillee etc. But overall great (fast/fast medium) swing bowler.

    So do you guys think he would have as many wickets if SA wasn't his home?

  • on February 8, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    Steyn is always better than Wasim,Waqar,Imran,Zaheer,Holding,Mcgrath etc. Earlier pitches used to be bowler friendly which is not the case for steyn. Batsmen's quality has also increased by a large amount.

  • on February 8, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    There is something about the articles of HARSHA BHOGLE that cant be ignored. Once u start reading , u just cant get off.

  • SyedArbabAhmed on February 8, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    What steyn has achieved on Asian pitches? @Harsha Bhogle till he repeats this kind of performance on Asia till then he is not that great.

  • Mitcher on February 8, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    Geez I'm sick to death of people who can't comment on an article without moaning about how it doesn't praise their own favourite player. Honestly... Steyn is a great bowler. Just enjoy it.

  • legfinedeep on February 8, 2013, 5:24 GMT

    " It is human nature to underrate the present and grossly overrate the past, but if you outlaw that trait, the time has come to place Steyn among the greatest fast bowlers of the game." <<< This is an extremely important point, and you expressed it well. We look back on the past with nostalgia and think of the charm of the past, while neglecting to realize that we are fortunate enough to witness greatness before our eyes in our own time. Steyn is just a class apart. He torments batsmen and he is one of the few bowlers who can be literally unplayable at his peak. People stay statistics are not everything - well in that case, he has the statistics, plus the x-factor of undisputed class.

  • Pinaki91 on February 8, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    the best fast bowler now and by many a miles. Good article Harsha. surprise to know Akram is not in any of the average and strike rate list

  • StarsnStumps on February 8, 2013, 5:10 GMT

    Steyn definitely deserves a place among the greatest fast bowlers ever. His performances become even more significant when you look at the fact that his performances are far better than the next best.

    As for people asking about Wasim, I too am a Pakistan cricket fan and Wasim is my favourite bowler but this is an article about Steyn and the writer is comparing his strike rate and average against others. Wasim's stats there are not as good as Steyn's, simple.

    And as for people saing that Steyn is yet to prove his worth in the subcontinet, please please check out the facts before posting stuff he has blown away India and Pakistan in their own stadia. As for the UAE tour he ran into a determined Pakistan side and very flat wickets where neither side's bowling could do much.

    Give the man the respect he deserves, the Demon of Phalaborwa is among the all time greats and will feature in many people's all time XIs by the time he is done.

  • on February 8, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    So happy to have a featured comment thanks Cricinfo.

  • china_vanilla_bear on February 8, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    Great article Harsha, though I have to call you up on your assessment on Daniel Craig. He is cut like a picnic lunch...to call him wiry would be a vast underestimation of his physique!

  • johnathonjosephs on February 8, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    One can not make decisions too quickly about players. Let him play another 4-5 years and then judge them. In my opinion though, Dale Steyn will be considered one of the best fast bowlers at the end of his career. If Philander continues at the rate he's been going on, he too will be one of the best

  • RajitD on February 8, 2013, 5:02 GMT

    1. Wasim Akram has to be in this list. I dont care who gets knocked off. 2. Wonder when India will have a bowler who can make this cut. Doesnt seem likely in the foreseeable future.

  • getsetgopk on February 8, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    500 definately and yes he is one of the all time greats no question about it. This article could have been a lot better had Harsha not mentioned the three characters IPL. Steyns wicket taking ability on slow and low wickets is no where near the swing and seaming conditions in Auss, Eng and SA. As for his bowling in IPL, I have heard (never watched an IPL game and no offence to anyone I dont like T20) that steyn used to bowl cross seam as there was nothing in the wicket and as he's not Akhtar so I dont see why he should be mentioned in the context of IPL. This article could have been lot batter had the writer mentioned some other aspects of steyns bowling etc.

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    Excellent article on Steyn! He surely is the best bowler of today and is one among the best ever!

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:44 GMT

    No doubt, he is a great bowler but to become an all time best I think he needs to perform at sub-continent which so far he hasn't. Even against Pakistan at UAE, may be because of injury, he wasnt that great

  • pauliangenius on February 8, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    Mr Harsha Bhogle !!!

    Cricket is not about stats and averages, but about class of a bowler. Mcgrath and Wasim and Waqar may not be on the top of your so called stats list, but the world know they were a class apart and a joy to watch. Do not balance Steyn out on stats. Nothing to take away from him as in the last decade, he is the only classy fast bowler to emerge in world cricket.

  • pauliangenius on February 8, 2013, 4:32 GMT

    where is Wasim Akram in this article mister??

    the all time greatest left arm fast bowler who use to wreck batting lineups with little support from other players on his side unlike Dale Steyn, who has two good bowlers to support him plus a great batting line up to lower opposition confidence down.

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    Hail Dale!!!!he is indeed a treat to watch

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    which makes the ICC's decision to name Mitchell Johnson as 2009 Cricketer of the Year when Steyn's stats were incomparable even more farcical!

  • Nadeem1976 on February 8, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    Steyn is the only great fast bowler in this era. There is no doubt about his talent, ability and pace. If he takes 500 wickets he will be among all time top 10 fast bowlers ever and best SA bowler ever. He is really thrill to watch and great entertainer.

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    totally agree harsha,great article

  • on February 8, 2013, 3:58 GMT

    Steyn 30??,How can Harsha make such a mistake?

  • on February 8, 2013, 3:58 GMT

    Steyn 30??,How can Harsha make such a mistake?

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    totally agree harsha,great article

  • Nadeem1976 on February 8, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    Steyn is the only great fast bowler in this era. There is no doubt about his talent, ability and pace. If he takes 500 wickets he will be among all time top 10 fast bowlers ever and best SA bowler ever. He is really thrill to watch and great entertainer.

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    which makes the ICC's decision to name Mitchell Johnson as 2009 Cricketer of the Year when Steyn's stats were incomparable even more farcical!

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    Hail Dale!!!!he is indeed a treat to watch

  • pauliangenius on February 8, 2013, 4:32 GMT

    where is Wasim Akram in this article mister??

    the all time greatest left arm fast bowler who use to wreck batting lineups with little support from other players on his side unlike Dale Steyn, who has two good bowlers to support him plus a great batting line up to lower opposition confidence down.

  • pauliangenius on February 8, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    Mr Harsha Bhogle !!!

    Cricket is not about stats and averages, but about class of a bowler. Mcgrath and Wasim and Waqar may not be on the top of your so called stats list, but the world know they were a class apart and a joy to watch. Do not balance Steyn out on stats. Nothing to take away from him as in the last decade, he is the only classy fast bowler to emerge in world cricket.

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:44 GMT

    No doubt, he is a great bowler but to become an all time best I think he needs to perform at sub-continent which so far he hasn't. Even against Pakistan at UAE, may be because of injury, he wasnt that great

  • on February 8, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    Excellent article on Steyn! He surely is the best bowler of today and is one among the best ever!

  • getsetgopk on February 8, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    500 definately and yes he is one of the all time greats no question about it. This article could have been a lot better had Harsha not mentioned the three characters IPL. Steyns wicket taking ability on slow and low wickets is no where near the swing and seaming conditions in Auss, Eng and SA. As for his bowling in IPL, I have heard (never watched an IPL game and no offence to anyone I dont like T20) that steyn used to bowl cross seam as there was nothing in the wicket and as he's not Akhtar so I dont see why he should be mentioned in the context of IPL. This article could have been lot batter had the writer mentioned some other aspects of steyns bowling etc.