Mark Nicholas
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Former Hampshire batsman; host of Channel 9's cricket coverage

Steyn's spell from hell

No other bowler in the world today could have won the match in Port Elizabeth so suddenly and with such effect

Mark Nicholas

February 26, 2014

Comments: 133 | Text size: A | A

Dale Steyn: unleashing fury in moments of desperation © Associated Press

"Think I'd rather face a starving lion while dressed as a lightly barbecued zebra thigh than Dale Steyn when it's reversing." - tweet from @pavilionopinion

Those mad eyes and them fists pumping; that skin stretched tight across a crazed face and those veins bursting from their forearms; that mighty bear hug from an ecstatic and emotional captain all told Australia one thing: Dale Steyn and Graeme Smith will ensure that South Africa do not lie down to die.

There was nothing in the St George's Park pitch, nothing. It was a pitch so dead that the air appeared to have been sucked from the ball. Exceptional cricket was required to transcend the damn thing, cricket glimpsed here and there through the mist of time and only ever in the Test match arena where the human drama is a greater spectacle than six hits and steepling catches. If the cabal who now want to run the game cannot see that the single-most important commodity in cricket's list of tradeable assets is the Test match game, they will, in time, bring it to its knees.

No other bowler in the world today could have won the match in Port Elizabeth so suddenly and with such effect. Mitchell Johnson's ineffectiveness is proof of that. In the first innings there was something of Curtly Ambrose in Morne Morkel's pinpoint brutality but Morkel is unable to sustain his performance and remains vulnerable to counter-attack in a way that Ambose never was. In Steyn there is something of Malcolm Marshall, not least in the fury that is unleashed in moments of desperation. There are aesthetic similarities - that sprint to the wicket and the fast arm that releases the ball from a perfect wrist position - along with the ability to swing the ball at an alarming pace but it is the desire that stands out. Winning is everything.

You sense that in Smith too. It is a common theme among champions. For a week after the heavy defeat at Centurion, Smith had to field questions about his team's humiliation - for that is what it was. Proud, strong men hate that. They hate the idea of weakness, whether mental or physical, and in this case it was both. His own feathers had been ruffled by an inglorious first-innings dismissal before a freak catch in the second that told him the gods had switched their allegiance. Questions, questions, and off-tape answers. All the while, the South African captain was working out a way to win back the gods.

 
 
Even Marshall could not use an old ball with such venom and effect. Of modern practioners, only Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis could bring such chaos and collapse
 

It seemed he had failed, such were the frustrations as the match progressed. It was as if the circle of life must move on. His two cheap dismissals, numerous dropped catches by those around him, absurd DRS mistakes and elusive form from the joker in his pack. On top of all this was a family injury that kept him awake through the whole first night of the match. Only adrenalin and desire kept him going as that kind and gentle face masked the driven mind of the man within.

When JP Duminy trapped David Warner in front of leg stump, the match changed for Smith. A decision went his way at last with an unlikely wicket-taker claiming a rampant opponent. The ball was softening and scuffing; the two batsmen at the wicket - Chris Rogers and Alex Doolan - could be controlled; his joker was champing at the bit. First Smith held the game up, drying the run flow, agitating the Australian dressing room who sensed the change of emphasis. Then, on the back of the wickets of Doolan and Shaun Marsh, he unleashed hell.

Even Marshall could not use an old ball with such venom and effect. Of modern practioners, only Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis could bring such chaos and collapse. At 145kph, the ball travels some two thirds of its journey to the batsman before darting in or out like a tracking missile in search of its target. The one that angles in is the hardest to play. If you miss it, it hits you, or destroys the stumps behind you. Ask Steve Smith and Brad Haddin, two in-form Australians. When it swerves away your hands and bat instinctively go with it, a kind of knee-jerk to the suddenness of the movement, and if you catch it, invariably it is only with a small part of the blade. Ask Michael Clarke.

In that burst of 3 for 11, Steyn won the match. In total nine wickets fell for 62, which is next to nothing in the context of the match. Of these, Steyn captured four and, through the principle of cause and effect, instigated most of the others. The ghosts of Wasim and Waqar chuckled their approval around St George's Park. With the joy of swing, Steyn now did to Australia what Johnson had done to South Africa with sheer speed. Whoosh, gone, game over. High quality and truly fast bowling is cricket's holy grail.

Steyn's place in the pantheon is already assured. Performances such as these simply confirm a gift given to very few - the gift of match-winning. Comparisons are misleading, particularly over time, but references to what has gone before are relevant in judging what we are seeing now. Dale Steyn is up there with anyone. Meanwhile, his captain is tough as teak. To Cape Town now for a splendid climax. Long live the fast bowler.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

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Posted by komninos on (March 3, 2014, 6:13 GMT)

may i say how much i enjoy your commentary (Mark Ncholas) and your articles. as a poet i have an appreciation of language and not only are you knowledgable on the game, you also have a very eloquent and articulate expression which makes your writing and your broadcasts very enjoyable. thankyou komninos

Posted by Twinkie on (March 2, 2014, 17:45 GMT)

"Big Three! Big Three!" Ha, ha, ha!

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (March 2, 2014, 2:42 GMT)

But Mark, did you consider the possibility that SA fielders might have tampered with the ball as they did in UAE to get reverse swing?

Posted by   on (March 1, 2014, 8:10 GMT)

Nice article! Very fun. Looking forward to Cape Town.

Posted by dandi23 on (March 1, 2014, 8:02 GMT)

@ShutTheGate

Strike rate of 52 is not, I repeat NOT, similar to strike rate of 42. Lillee faced the Windies great bats, true. Steyn plays in the era of the lifeless, dead pitch where every country has at least two or more bats with stats that read like the Windies great bats. Lillee is comparable to Alan Donald. Steyn is in that Marshall, Ambrose, Hadlee class and he may not be the least of them.

Posted by   on (February 28, 2014, 21:59 GMT)

there are various types of souls most quite average, some lunatics and very few enlightened, all discussing a single thing whether STEYN's a greatest bowler of all times... this in itself proves he is one.. not all bowlers provoke this discussion...

Posted by   on (February 28, 2014, 21:52 GMT)

come on guys STEYN does not need this last match to be rated among the greats... he's been doing it consistently since 2008 all round the world on different types of pitches... and even in 2014 if u still don't appreciate his bowling you not following cricket... best of luck for you'll with some other sport..

Posted by   on (February 28, 2014, 9:21 GMT)

@ Arvind Sherigar. why would we want Kohli when we have Amla And Devilliers?

Posted by   on (February 28, 2014, 7:19 GMT)

It is unfair to compare Styen with Wasim & Waqar. The Duo of W's played most of their matches in Sub-Continent as compared to Styen who had enjoyed more juicy & Bouncy wickets in SA. More over Pakistani fielding has cost so many wickets to Wasim & Waqar. Again Styen has enjoyed far better catching from his team mates. I am taking nothing away from Modern Master Styen but the numbers do not tell true story always.

Posted by   on (February 28, 2014, 4:37 GMT)

Greatest modern fast bowler. Please trade him to us SA. You can have Kohli

Posted by SLSup on (February 28, 2014, 3:34 GMT)

ShutTheGate: Yo, firstly I did not suggest you look up stats; I said I would be happy to provide some if necessary. I guess there is no point expecting some commenting here to look up things before they talk anyways! Or was it my English that was too complicated?

Here's what I said: Your idea of bowling to WI batsmen of 70's compare more favorably to Steyn bowling since 2004 is bunkum. Viv Richards scored only 24 x 100s in 121 Tests compared to Sanga's 35 in 125 or Sachin's 50 in 200 or Kallis, Dravid, Mahela, Ponting, Hayden, Cook, Lara and I can go on! They ALL and OTHER modern greats have better stats than Viv (who is better than most in the 70"s and 80's!). Viv averages @ 50.23. That's the lower end for great batsmen since the 90's. And Viv's one of the BEST examples of your fav 70's! Anyone else I pick will only prove my point more!

That you thought Lillee's strike rate of 52 VERY SIMILAR to Steyn's 42 says how BLIND you can be to reality. But, then, you may not SEE it!

Posted by KishoreSharma on (February 28, 2014, 1:50 GMT)

Sure, this was a fine bowling performance by Steyn, but I would not call it a 'match-winning' one. Australia were already four wickets down for 150 odd, chasing a total of 450+, when he stepped in. The odds were on South Africa winning even if Steyn had not stepped in so dramatically. In addition, we should note Steyn's inconsistency in recent tests against India and Aus. Interspersed between these 'magic' spells have been barren periods. So let's not play up this performance too much.

Posted by regofpicton on (February 28, 2014, 0:01 GMT)

At their best both Steyn & Johnson are superlative bowlers and it is virtually impossible to pick between them. But the palm must go to Steyn, because it is hard to imagine any crowd of opposing fans daring to chant derision at him, while the Barmy Army got away with it for a couple of entire series Ashes against Johnson.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2014, 23:44 GMT)

Enjoyed the short piece Mr Nicholas. Glad someone has mentional the great Sir RJ, even though you did not. Indian supporters should in future never forget to acknowledge NZ, ha ..ha. Really looking forward to the third test in SA.

Posted by Alexk400 on (February 27, 2014, 20:56 GMT)

Steyn has best aggressive bowling action. Meaning more faster bowl they do not get injured because of low center of gravity. Malcolm marshall bowling is more of strong legs allow him to use it as frictions against his fast hands. Malcolm marshal was best. If i have to say best in Test its malcolm marhsall , second is wasim akram.In ODI wasim akram was best , second is waqar younis. Steyn probably in top 10. Steyn has best run up and bowling acting like BMW machine. Also brett lee had nice runup and action. Steyn was carted around in chennai flat wicket by sehwag for 319 runs. So steyn needs little juicy wicket for him to be effective.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2014, 17:23 GMT)

Steyn has 53 less wickets than Wasim Akram had in tests. Wasim bowled 1240 more overs for that stat though. Wasim had 5 10fers and 25 5fers. Steyn has 5 10 fers and 22 5fers. Thats very similar with many less overs. In total Steyn is only 53 wickets behind Wasim. that should take 11 tests if we look at Dales averages

Waqar Younis also compares if you look at the stats, Steyn is level with 10 and 5 fers, and only 12 wickets behind Waqar.

Steyn is taking wickets all over the world, and all over SA, which has vastly different pitches. He is taking 10fers that change matches.

say what you want now but this guy is special and deserves the praise he gets.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2014, 14:11 GMT)

Styen is by far the best fast bowler in the world in last 5 years and he belongs among legends of cricket and greatness at the end of his career.

Styen and MJ are two top fast bowlers in the world . We just have to give MJ third match to see whether he is better than Styen or not.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2014, 12:19 GMT)

you must not compare Steyn with Waseem/Waqar, these guys used the old ball on the dead wickets and claimed 5 to 10 wickets. There is no match between Steyn or even Ambrose with these guys. Styen and others were had a bad record on the Dead wickets.

Posted by HennopsRiverEnd on (February 27, 2014, 11:39 GMT)

"In every series I've ever played against him, and seen him play, you can just see when he fires up and gets that spell that changes the game. That's the reason why he's the best fast bowler in the world" said Shane Watson

Posted by pcraju on (February 27, 2014, 7:38 GMT)

Johnson should not be compared with greats yet. Steyn is already proven that he is one of the greats in fast bowling. Fast bowling is not about speed. It is the line and length with consistency and being able to bowl what the batsman don't know to play. This doesnt mean bouncers which goes on the shoulder or over the head or even unplayable bouncers. Johnson has just discovered the speed and learnt to pitch in the right areas. But those bouncers he bowls are not something about great bowling. Morkel bowled the same to him when he batted. Morkel has pace too. So Johnson and Morkel bowling are around the same but not Steyn's. Steyn doesnt target the person or he doesnt sledge often like Johnson. He just tries to bowl better and better based on the opposition, he doesnt try to scare the batsman. He challenges himself if he doesnt get wickets but doesnt try to say a word to batsman when he is bowling. That is professional bowling. Johnson provokes the batsman with his words and bouncers.

Posted by liz1558 on (February 27, 2014, 7:20 GMT)

I like the idea of what is being said here: great fast bowler produces the match winning spell that prevents opponents striding to victory; none but Steyn could've done it etc. It doesn't really hold up though. Aus had been stopped in their tracks by that stage, were already three down and the innings had stalled, just as it did at Chester le Street in similar circumstances. Steyn's performance was no better than Broad's, after Swann and Bres had made the early break throughs.

Posted by SLSup on (February 27, 2014, 7:14 GMT)

Response to Shane_Bond: Haha. Ya Bondy was too good a player to not notice but I guess there is a truth to the saying that certain things are too good to be true. That strike rate in Tests plus an entire SHORT career is a pity indeed. Here's to what could have been!

Ewan Chatfield was no major strike bowler but BOY did he shut off one-end that perhaps help Hadlee attack more. It felt like he could bowl 5 days in a row without breaking a sweat! Again, wouldn't take anything away from the great bowler Hadlee is but I do see your point on the supporting cast of others great bowlers.

Note to ShutTheGate: I'll respond to your request tomorrow, it is almost midnight here in California and it's time for me to ShutTheEyes.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 27, 2014, 7:06 GMT)

@legfinedeep: Wow, you need to get english classes, your comprehension is appalling. Boycott didn't say Steyn was the best he had seen in 50 years, he said Steyn has what it takes to be a top bowler in any of the eras he has seen over 50 years. Totally different meaning.

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 27, 2014, 6:49 GMT)

@shutthegate: you are right, this is what he said: "Dale Steyn for me is the best fast bowler in the world. I've always thought so for years now and the reason for that is he can bowl on any surface. I believe he has enough pace and movement and skill to be a top bowler in any era that I've seen over 50 years."

Posted by   on (February 27, 2014, 6:36 GMT)

@xtrafalgarx: "Steyn doesn't strike fear into the batsman's heart". How many batsmen did you ask?

Posted by godshand on (February 27, 2014, 6:02 GMT)

Steyn is probably the best in the last decade. But sometimes, he just shows aggression without showing the same commitment in his bowling, which is what the likes of Wasim, Walsh, Ambrose etal were extremely good at.

Posted by wapuser on (February 27, 2014, 5:59 GMT)

@cric-procrastinator SA actually won in Indian Pitches in the last 2 times they visited. Both the series in India were Drawn because Steyn gun was firing all cylinders and ran down then Mighty Indian Batting Line up. Non other could do that in the dust bowls. Though this SA could not achieve what Cronje's SA did to India by beating them 2 -0 in India but i believe if there is a tour to India now I think SA would prevail not without a death fight tho. SA are known for that. I can guarantee SA would not lose the series for sure. Maybe this time they win the series like Cronje's 2000

Posted by crzcric on (February 27, 2014, 5:55 GMT)

There's no doubt he is the best in the business.Fans only got chance to see that only in TEST nowadays.It's so sad to see no reverse swing in ODI cricket anymore.Two new ball rule ruin it.It would have been great it fans can see it again in ODI. In depth overs batsman try to attack while bowler reverse swing the ball.We miss those good old days.It would have great to see that contest than slogging less than 25 overs old ball.

Posted by srikanths on (February 27, 2014, 5:43 GMT)

Steyn is a terrific bowler who has proved his worth in all conditions, bouncy, swinging and low ,slow dry ones. He swings, seams and reverse swings at a good pace. Ratchets up the pace when it is required. Truly an all time great.Graeme Smith is lucky to have him. On the other hand Morkel can be a real handful with his sharp short pitched stuff but somehow wickets elude him, may be becaue he lacks the variety. One has to concede that Steyn also benefits from Morkel,. The latter softens up batsmen ,giving some pickings for steyn and Phialnder

Let us see how Johnson reacts in the next match. Johnson is a very strong athlete and can come back strongly, OZ should include Pattinson in place of siddle

Posted by ShutTheGate on (February 27, 2014, 5:39 GMT)

@ legfinedeep

I don't think boycott said he was the best in 50 years. He said he's in the same group as the greats which he's seen - big difference.

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 27, 2014, 5:06 GMT)

xtrafalgarx and firstdrop - Thou both doth protest too much. See the recent article on the cricinfo main page where Boycott says Steyn is the best bowler he has seen in the past 50 years, and that he reminds him of Marshall. I think we shall take his opinion (and the opinion of the writer of this article who was a professional cricketer), over uninformed ridiculous opinions from people like you both.

Posted by arunsubbu on (February 27, 2014, 4:57 GMT)

i believe steyn's effort is so much more commendable coz he is bowling in an era where there is so much body protection and hence batsmen's technique against fast bowling has improved.I ahd my reservations about SA not being able to match Aus after their first test drubbing but they seem to be now justifying their No1 rank.Smith has to fire in the final test.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2014, 4:16 GMT)

Just wow! Steyn makes me speechless. The way he manages to unnerve the batsmen and make them play at his pace is stunning. We are watching greatness and should all appreciate Steyn while we have him as a player.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 27, 2014, 3:42 GMT)

Steyn doesn't strike fear into the batsman's heart. That's the difference between him and Johnson. However, if i am honest, Steyn is by far the most skillful bowler in the world and can bowl in all conditions. He has a bit of everything, a jack of all trades. However, that doesn't necessarily mean he is the best in each of those areas.

On a green, bouncy pitch I would pick Johnson over Steyn hands down. Johnson has the fear factor, he strikes fear into the hearts of batsmen because they know he can physically hurt them, not just get them out like Steyn.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2014, 2:00 GMT)

Steyn wil retire as the greatest fast bowler to ever played the game

Posted by cricket_ahan on (February 27, 2014, 1:48 GMT)

@Dannov747: Completely agree. What Steyn has that a lot of others lack in today's game is tenaciously and ferocity - as Smith put it in his post match interview "Dale's either angry or 'very' angry". Many great fast bowlers, even those without outright pace (e.g. Glenn McGrath) have a ruthlessness about them that sees nothing except a wicket, and this works to always keep batsmen on their toes. Dale is amongst a few in world cricket that have that in today's game. Australian bowlers over the years have been some of the best, most consistent, exponents of this trait (McGrath, Lee, McDermott, Thompson, Lillee, even Siddle.. the list goes on and on) and this for me is part of the reason for their success. Hope Steyn continues in this vein for some time yet - great to watch!

Posted by cric-procrastinator on (February 27, 2014, 1:48 GMT)

Congrats to SA on the win. I don't understand this double standard, apparently "There was nothing in the St George's Park pitch, nothing. It was a pitch so dead that the air appeared to have been sucked from the ball. Exceptional cricket was required to transcend the damn thing", so if such a pitch exists outside India that's seems to be fine but a similar pitch in India is called a road, a dust bowl.....blah blah blah, why cant visiting teams play exceptional cricket In Indian Dam thing also and win. When you win you should get credit, when you lose you have to give the winning team credit and not hide behind childish excuses like the pitch was road, dust bowl etc etc when you visit India and happen to lose. If this match happened outside India and played between India and some other country, people would have complained that BCCI made the home team create a road.

Posted by MiddleStump on (February 27, 2014, 1:17 GMT)

Steyn belongs with the all time greats and both his average and his strike rate only confirm that. He belongs in an elite group of 4 fast bowlers I have seen during the past 50 years along with Marshall, Holding and Lillee.

Posted by partnershipbreaker on (February 27, 2014, 1:06 GMT)

steyn a legend in himself

Posted by Manush on (February 27, 2014, 0:52 GMT)

A real treat to watch his fury on a supposedly a dead wicket,which changed the game permanently SA way. He has been doing this against all opponents and destroyed many leading cricketers lifespan.!!! Only KP in recent times, thrashed him, but lost his place thanks to petty politics !!!

Posted by   on (February 27, 2014, 0:05 GMT)

big debate for greatness ..why can't we understand that we can not compare bowlers from 80s to now ...just let it go...

Posted by ShutTheGate on (February 26, 2014, 22:22 GMT)

@ SLSup

Why don't you offer the stat's to back up your claim, instead of suggesting that we look them up?

Your claim is ambiguous in "my comparative studies of the overall performances of the batsmen of that era doesn't negate the worse bowling conditions and higher caliber batsmen "

Please do explain why conditions favoured bowlers in the 70's.

Posted by PACERONE on (February 26, 2014, 22:22 GMT)

We as fans can compare players from different eras.What we should do is ask batsmen like Dean Jones what it was like to face an angry Ambrose.We cannot ask Tony Greg about Marshal,These batsmen had more skill as batsmen than most of the so called greats of this era.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 20:51 GMT)

STATES DONT LIE....

"SIR" WAS THE GREATEST FAST BOWLER > 300 TEST WICKETS...MORE THAN DOUBLE THAN 2ND BEST..MCGRATH..FOLLWED BY DK Lillee (Aus),Imran Khan (Pak),Wasim Akram (Pak),DW Steyn (SA),MD Marshall (WI),Waqar Younis (Pak),CEL Ambrose (WI),CA Walsh (WI),IT Botham (Eng),AA Donald (SA),M Ntini (SA),FS Trueman (Eng),N Kapil Dev (India),LR Gibbs (WI),SM Pollock (SA),JM Anderson (Eng),WPUJC Vaas (SL),Z Khan (India)

Posted by Divinetouch on (February 26, 2014, 20:46 GMT)

Interesting that when Wasim and Waqar did it they were labelled cheats now that bowlers who do not share their heritage are doing it, it is accepted. As Michael Holding often say, rules differ depending who are being scrutinized.

However, there is no doubt that Dale Steyn is the number bowler in the game today. Glad he destroyed Australia a team that was made to look by a mediocore English team of whom oly Kevin Petersen is world class and they have ditched him.

Posted by mmoosa on (February 26, 2014, 20:31 GMT)

@First_Drop....Which great batsmen (AVE OVER 45) did Marshall and Ambrose bowl too...lets be realistic ...Border,Miandad,no English greats.Gavaskar,younger Steve Waugh,Inzi...Steyn's bowled to ....Hayden.Gilchrist,Ponting,Cook,K.P,Lara,Tendulkar,Chanderpaul.Clarke.Dravid,Laxman,Younis Khan,Sanga,Mahela,Sehwag,Inzi,

Steyn not a laughable proposition in comparison to anyone.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 20:31 GMT)

top 20 best fast bowler > 300 wickets s.no. Player Span Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5 10 bowling points wickets points ratio 1 Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ) 1973-1990 86 150 21918 9611 431 Sep-52 15/123 22.29 2.63 50.80 36 9 2,978 1,39,644 46.89 2 GD McGrath (Aus) 1993-2007 124 243 29248 12186 563 Aug-24 10/27 21.64 2.49 51.90 29 3 2,797 48,981 17.51

Posted by Dannov747 on (February 26, 2014, 20:14 GMT)

@Abhi Shrivastav

Why can't he be compared to them? Steyn is bowling at a time when bowling is far more difficult than what it was then and is achieving similar results as they did. He is a terrific matchwinner and will go down as the greatest bowler of this era. So he can absolutely be compared to them.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 26, 2014, 20:09 GMT)

A lot of posters seem to be confusing the fear of physical danger with classic fast bowling. There is an overlap but it's far from a perfect fit. Really nasty stuff (Jeff Thomson, Charlie Griffith, Sylvester Clarke, Andy Roberts) is somehow in a separate category and - all things considered - more dramatic than great, because it offered a real chance of a batsman being felled. Class, as ever, will out. Despite England's blanched faces when Mitch got going in the recent Ashes, that was, in historical terms, short of the really physically intimidating going-over - and with modern helmets and other designer-protection, allowed them the 'fatal luxury' of taking the eye off the ball - so they were short on technique as much as (or possibly more than) bottle.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 20:03 GMT)

brilliant article Mark.....Steyn was absolutely devastating and Biff played his cards well

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 19:29 GMT)

Steyn...surely one of the best of current lot..but surely too..cant be compared with old legends like Wasim,Waqar & West Indian Legends..

Posted by EdwinD on (February 26, 2014, 19:11 GMT)

Mark Nicholas's intro is a touch underestimating - he was the nationally admired and respected Hampshire captain for a number of years, not just a 'former Hampshire batsman'.

Posted by Sorcerer on (February 26, 2014, 19:01 GMT)

No other bowler could have done it? How about when Ajmal and Rehman ran through England in a matter of just under three hours on a placid Abu Dhabi pitch knocking them over for 72 in a 141-run chase? how about when Shoaib ran through the much more mighty Aussie batting order in Colombo Test on a flat deck?

Posted by ABHIJATJOSHI on (February 26, 2014, 18:26 GMT)

I am a diehard fan of Marshall and Ambrose. I saw them both in full flight. Though from India, my heart was always with the West Indies. But I can CONFIRM that Steyn is up there with both of them. Perhaps not when they were at their supreme best. But we MUST TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THAT NEITHER COULD KEEP THOSE STANDARDS FOR SO LONG. Steyn is winning matches even after claiming 350 wickets. Both my Gods, Marshall and Ambrose, were shadows of themselves long before they came to that stage. I had a chance to talk to another of my Gods, Sachin Tendulkar, about Steyn, and he said that Steyn is as great that as anything he ever came across. That's why I can confidently confirm that our current hero is no less than the supermen of the past.

Posted by First_Drop on (February 26, 2014, 17:12 GMT)

@Xolile: I didn't realise you had also compared Steyn with Ambose and Marshall??! Sorry, that's laughable. Those guys struck fear into every batsmen all the time. Sorry - but Steyn isn't anywhere near that.

Posted by stormy16 on (February 26, 2014, 17:11 GMT)

I've seen a few memorable bowling spells but not many have stuck but one that has is Ambrose's 7/25 at the WACCA in 92' - it was one of these insane spells when the batters had little chance. Steyns spell at St Georges is certainly up there with the very best and I almost certain it will be there for along time. I think the writer captures the spell well but one thing that struck me was the 'inswing'. Steyn is usually a beautiful outswing bowler and swings it well at pace but the inswing was insane. I didnt see alot of Akram but from what little I did see, this must be the closest anyone has got to Akram.

Posted by First_Drop on (February 26, 2014, 17:10 GMT)

@Xolile - If that's true, then why are only 2 of todays current players in the top 10 of all time test batting averages? (And those two have significantly better home averages than away averages - e.g. Pujara) And your argument also assumes that bowling has not benefitted from technology or general advanacement with the times.... I've seen both Steyn and Lillee bowl. IMHO Steyn isn't a patch on Lillee. Lillee transformed himself into a world class medium - fast bowler who relied purely on guile and control to get his wickets. Steyn isn't there yet.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 16:56 GMT)

I enjoyed both the matches in this series for the quality of bowling. I loved Mitchell Johnson's bowling in the first match as much as Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn's in the second. Don't go belittling great performances in the name of mind games and country.

Posted by BellCurve on (February 26, 2014, 16:25 GMT)

The old generation always discounts the batting averages of the current generation, pointing out protective gear has improved, tracks are now covered and generally more batsman-friendly, and that bats are better engineered nowadays, with bigger sweet spots and fatter edges. They claim that averages have to be reduced by about 10% to facilitate direct comparisons with the likes of Sir Viv and Greg Chappell. On that basis Steyn deserves a 10% reduction of his bowling average too. That puts him on par with Marshall and Ambrose, and well ahead of Lillee. Whichever way you look at it, Steyn has to be mentioned henceforth whenever All Time XIs are debated.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 16:21 GMT)

@Slsup I offer an apology for being ignorant. Yes, Malcolm Marshall was definitely the greatest but at the same time he had Garner, Croft, Walsh, Ambrose, Roberts.....(I can go on), Lillee had Thommo and others and Dale has Morne, Philander and until recently Kallis. Now thats a scary lineup. But if you look at Hadlee, no matter how much I loved them Ewen Chatfield and Lance Cairns didn't stand a chance against the ones mentioned above. He carried the New Zealand attack on his paddles! No disrespect to others but for me Sir Richard's the best. And as for strike rate, Bondy has it better (lol).

Posted by crikkfan on (February 26, 2014, 16:16 GMT)

What a brilliant article! Truly praising the virtues of high quality fast bowling. Long live the fast bowler AND test cricket!

Posted by SLSup on (February 26, 2014, 16:05 GMT)

Additional comment on ShutTheGate: Just a thought on your ref to Lillee having to bowl at West Indian batsman of the 70's and 80's - my comparative studies of the overall performances of the batsmen of that era doesn't negate the worse bowling conditions and higher caliber batsmen (in terms of their prolific careers) that Steyn has had to endure. Those West Indies batsmen were flamboyant and attractive to watch but compare their stats side by side (i.e., PERFORMANCE) and you see Steyn had it worse in his time than bowlers of that era. If you wish I can provide stats to prove!

Posted by SLSup on (February 26, 2014, 15:58 GMT)

Response to ShutTheGate and Shane Bond: Hadlee is obviously a top-pick when it comes to great fast bowlers - no one can keep him out of topic. I think the statistics bare out that Styen is better than Lillee or Hadlee. There was a ref to there been not much between Lillee and Styen, I differ. There is a BIG difference between a strike-rate of every 52 (Lillee or 50 (Hadlee) balls to Steyn's 42! Between Lillee and Steyn it is clear Steyn has taken less wickets in home conditions that suit him than Lillee. Also, it is a given Lillee played in an era that favored bowlers slightly more than does Styen's era.

NOW, if you ask me who the BEST bowler of all time for ME - its Malcolm Marshall. I was just saying between one of my all time favorites Lillee (man I love those radio days straining my ears to catch every action) others Dale Steyn has surpassed Lillee.

Posted by AB_DeVilliers on (February 26, 2014, 14:16 GMT)

I really can't watch enough of Peter Siddle's bowling, said no one ever. I must admit, all this talk about having the best attack in the world, Aus have struggled in both tests honestly. Johnson was brutal and brilliant in the first test, but other than him, there was nothing on offer. In the 2nd, there was nothing on offer from the seamers, period. Harris and Siddle really lacked penetration, and it's not the first time this has happened to them against SA (rem Adelaide and Perth?). So to Aus...next time, please back up all your brash talk with ability, cz Harris and Siddle aint showing any of it.

Posted by cricket-india on (February 26, 2014, 14:13 GMT)

'If the cabal who now want to run the game cannot see that the single-most important commodity in cricket's list of tradeable assets is the Test match game, they will, in time, bring it to its knees. ' how well said, mark nicholas!!

Posted by Bruce_Robinson on (February 26, 2014, 14:10 GMT)

@venkatesh: The reason SA is number 1 is because we have a bowling attack that complements each other and all chip in. Of course, Morkel and Philander are important. I recall Steyn dealing Cook in England not so long ago. Hussey didn't enjoy Steyn in his final series. Cowan wasn't a happy bunny playing Steyn. I can't be bothered to check the stats but I am quite confident that Smith isn't losing any sleep over Steyn's ability to bowl at left handers.

Posted by CustomKid on (February 26, 2014, 14:07 GMT)

con't. You just can't compare era's or teams gone by. Pick a composite SA/AU team from the last 20 years, who would be in it.

(Hayden/ Smith as one opener( its a toss up), Langer (2), Pointing (3), Kailis (4), Waugh(c) (5), AB Dev (6), Gilchrist (7), Warme (8) Dizzy/Nitini (9) Donald/styne (10) McGrath (11). - pretty good team. I wouldn't put Amlar or Vernon in yet as they've got years to go in their careers and the same applies to Clarke. Mitch wouldn't make it based on consistency. Honorable mentions, Alan border( retired) 2004, Martyn, Lee, Kirsten, Klusner (maybe), anyone else you can think of worthy of a spot. These guys average 45+ with the Bat, and low to mid 20's with the ball.

It's so subjective, different team, era's, rules, equipment, etc. Comparing these Aussies to the those of the past as with the SA team of today's over the last 20 years again is chalk and cheese.

Posted by CustomKid on (February 26, 2014, 13:49 GMT)

Neil Retief on (February 26, 2014, 10:53 GMT- mate you're dreaming. You are comparing apples with oranges. Cricket swings and roundabouts. The one problem with cricket especially test cricket is that at any one time there really is only once decent team playing the game. 70's to 92 it was the windies, 89 to 2007 it was Australia, it rolls on eras.

You put the current SA side up against, Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Waugh, waugh, Martyn, Gilchrist, Warne, Gillespie, McGrath, (Lee, fleming, etc as the 11th) and I don't think the current SA team would stand a chance. Other than AB I don't think one of the current SA team would handle warne to start with and McGrath and Dizzy in their prime would towel them up easily. In fact they did hand Smith, Kailis, Donald, Pollock, Nitini and co their backsides up until 2008 when the Aussies were decimated by retirements.

SA have a great team now, the rest of the world aren't that flash, Just like the waugh/ponting era didn't face great foes. cont

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 26, 2014, 13:16 GMT)

Neil Retief: My oh, my. Warner and S.Smith have far better records at this stage of their careers than many greats. Better than Waugh, Hayden, and even your compatriots in the Amla's and ABDV's started off modestly. Do you really think that Warner is going to average 42 for the rest of his career? He is averaging 65 in this series and averaged 52 in the past ashes. You are comparing people at the start of their careers to people in their prime, that's a childish mistake for an also ran such as yourself judging from your picture old fellah.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 13:15 GMT)

That's the difference between him and Mitch, he did this on a fouth day wicket that wasn't particularly spikey, knowing he was a bowler down and the ball was old. He's class, pure class. Then again (we) England, never got to four days did we?

Posted by dedel on (February 26, 2014, 13:09 GMT)

the real Wasim and Waqar would shudder at the thought of their ghosts roaming St George's Park while they are still alive. That aside, Steyn is the best bowler around now. And only Test cricket can bring out the best in bowlers like him and allow him to thrive and create the best contests between the bat and ball.

Posted by HennopsRiverEnd on (February 26, 2014, 12:58 GMT)

What a joy to watch, Dale Steyn, an all time great!!

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 12:49 GMT)

There is no need for batsman to fear. They already know they are going to get out once Steyn is angry. Simple as that, why fear when you know the future!

Posted by venkatesh018 on (February 26, 2014, 12:35 GMT)

@Bruce_Robinson...I am talking about the last two years. Steyn has been struggling against the lefties during this period and Greame Smith will certainly vouch for that. Morkel and Philanderare invaluable to this attack if they are to bowl the Aussie batting line up top heavy with southpaws.

Posted by Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on (February 26, 2014, 11:50 GMT)

@Retief your assessment of Harris is very unfair, he is clearly not at the top of he's game at the moment and has delayed surgery to play in this series, when at the top of he's game he is amongst the best, probably only Steyn and philander are better, you don't average that low(22)for nothing.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 11:43 GMT)

Brilliant bowling performance from SA and Steyn in particular, but equally stale batting from Australia. Why could Rogers hang about and no one else, apart from Warner?

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 11:40 GMT)

What is Steyn's strike rate compared to the other greats?-for those who think Anderson, Malinga etc rate alongside?

Posted by EdGreen on (February 26, 2014, 11:11 GMT)

Hmm - wind back a test and Mitch Johnson did exactly that, a few more and I've seen Jimmy Anderson and Stuart do it - further still and adjmal was doing similar numbers on rated batting sides.

That's the joy of sport - good enough players on their day produce wonders.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 10:53 GMT)

I guess that settles the argument about the best bowling attack !!!Just another point - who in the present Aussie side would make a side picked from their best players over the past 20 years ? Clarke and maybe Johnsonen if 13 are picked ,compared to the Saffers where Smith,Amla,de villiers,Steyn and Vernon would make the grade with Morkel not being far off if 13 are picked !!We are talking 5/6 Saffers and 1/2 Aussies in a twenty year top side - Having Warner as one of their opening batsmen in 5 day cricket,illustrates the deep hole that the Aussies find themselves in - he as surely used up all his lives in the first 2 tests and he does,nt have the goods as an frontline opener to do the job - his average is proof of that.Siddle and Harris are honest ,hard working bowlers but average is the best way to describe them - they are not going to win you a match against a top side in the world.Lyon falls in the same category .That is it in a nutshell !!!

Posted by yoadie on (February 26, 2014, 10:49 GMT)

Mark Nicholas' account of Dale Steyn's mayhem in Port Elizabeth, reminds of Curtly Ambrose's 10-1-24-6 at the Queen's Park Oval versus England in March 1994. According to one England batsman - Graham Thorpe, (quote): "the sight of a local ambulance behind Ambrose's bowling arm, was far from comforting." And then, of Steve Harmison's bulldozing of the West Indies at Sabina Park on a breezy Sunday morning in March 2004. His 12.3-8-12-7 forced me to cancel a prearranged luncheon.

Posted by smalishah84 on (February 26, 2014, 10:13 GMT)

The ghosts of Wasim and Waqar must have truly chuckled indeed. Well said. Steyn's spell did remind of me the days of Wasim and Waqar reversing the ball in their pomp.

Posted by Ropsh on (February 26, 2014, 9:56 GMT)

I disagree with Mark Nicholas - there are plenty of bowlers who could have done the same as Steyn. To name just a few: Malinga, Roach, Johnson, Fidel Edwards, Jerome Taylor.

Posted by Marktc on (February 26, 2014, 9:48 GMT)

MrKricket....agreed....SA should play more cricket..a lot more. It does not help SA at all as they do not gain points by not playing. It should be accepted that matched amongst the top four are more regular and all 5 test affairs. venkatesh018..seriously....Steyn has reduced in speed, but his skills have improved. THe bottom line, both teams played on the same wicket....not a SA wicket as SA, like Oz, prefer fast wickets. Yet one team managed to bowl the other one out twice. Johnson cannot be considered a great bowler if he can only succeed on one type of wicket.

Posted by haqster499 on (February 26, 2014, 9:39 GMT)

Fast bowling is the best thing in cricket. It separates the men from the boys. Great article, great cricket.

Btw Marshall destroyed Pakistan for 77 in 1986/7 on a completely dead wicket in Lahore. This was after PK had won the first test in Faisalabad where the bowled out WI for 53.

cant wait for Newlands!!!

Posted by klsau on (February 26, 2014, 9:36 GMT)

@cricketsubh only true on bouncier pitches and Mitch in his current form..But people didn't fear Richard Hadlee like they did someone like Shoaib Akhtar at his peak..Doesn't mean Akhtar is the better bowler..They didn't fear Mcgrath like they did Brett lee on song..Doesn't mean Lee is the better bowler...Mitch is no Ambrose who had the height to be scary even on flat pitches...Loong way to go for him to make up for the many wayward spells that have plagued him before the Ashes...He is not going to bounce out batsmen in places like India..This is where his fuller deliveries will be heavily tested..Adelaide he was pretty good..But can he sustain those type of performances?

Posted by cricketsubh on (February 26, 2014, 9:21 GMT)

i do not think batsmen fear steyn like they fear jhonson

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 9:21 GMT)

While Dale Steyn is Exceptional I would not get carried away so far as to say that no other bowler could have delivered in a similar situation. On the top of my head from the current crop have seen Anderson & Malinga destroy oppositions with reverse swing on many a occassion. While steyn is great lets not say no one else can!

Posted by Bruce_Robinson on (February 26, 2014, 8:58 GMT)

@venkatesh018: Dale Steyn has 261 right-hander dismissals @18.06. He has 100 left-hander dismissals @24.37. Many frontline Test bowlers finish careers with higher averages than 24. Steyn is clueless against left-handers? After reading your comment the word clueless seems to be appropriate but not in the context you meant.

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 26, 2014, 8:52 GMT)

@venkatesh018 - I guess it's vindication that however good Steyn is, he is still bad by his own lofty standards.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 8:37 GMT)

Dale Steyn has to go down as one the greatest bowlers in the history of the game. He's absolutely out of this world. What a gift.

considering the circumstance, to come off and deliver a spell like that, is spellbinding. Hats off

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 8:20 GMT)

@Prabhakar.......the rest dont know anything aboht reverse swing? what match werr you watching boet? Steyn got given the old ball after Smith saw the amount of reverse swing Philander was starting get with less pace. Their must always be a critic hey. You make it sound as if there is something wrong with the Proteas attack. Consistent line of Philander, Beautiful fluid swing of Steyn, Aggression of Morkel...now in Cape Town Abbot will slot in to dry up runs from one side.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 26, 2014, 8:19 GMT)

@Albie: I said i will eat my hands if he runs through AUS. He didn't in the first innings, and we batted poorly. This spell was great, but still only a 4fer.

Posted by STEYNOHOLIC on (February 26, 2014, 8:15 GMT)

@ShutTheGate who writes, "However Steyn does not have to bowl at the West Indian great batsmen." Maybe so, but he also does not have the help of bowler friendly decks of Lillee's yesteryear. Which makes his strike rate even more phenomenal! Just a thought

Posted by venkatesh018 on (February 26, 2014, 8:08 GMT)

First things first. I am a very big fan of Dale Steyn. But of the 2004-2011 vintage.(esp.2009 to 2011). For almost the last two years and more he has remained a hostile bowler in pace and intent, but his skill levels have declined considerably. He has lost his lethal late outswing to the right handers, which also enabled him to bowl stump to stump and get even the lefties out bolwed or leg before.(Even now Steyn does move the bowl away from the right hander, but only when it is wide outside off, not from off and middle as he gloriously did in his heydays). Mr.Nicholas, the spell in PE was admittedly brilliant and great spectacle on TV. None denies that. But it was made possible because there was abundant reverse swing and his victims were all technically ill equipped RIGHT HANDERS. For a bowler of his class and experience, Steyn is clueless against left handers and that is the reason why Greame Smith has to turn to Morkel early on with the new ball to get the breakthrough.

Posted by TheRealPunter on (February 26, 2014, 7:54 GMT)

the wicket did suit the saffers better thn it did johnson and co...the aussie attack is being written off much like befiore the first test. if the pitch is any quick johnson will still do damage with the new ball..though siddle n harris have to learn to reverse swing the ball when it gets older...dnt think we will see steyn ball better with the old ball as he did in PE..Bring on Newlands

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 7:54 GMT)

@xtrafalgarx. .. how can you type without hands?? You were the one saying before Oz batted that "you will eat your hands if Steyn runs through Australia".... Johnson cooler then Steyn? Sounds like girl talk, your such a MJ fanboy, which means you have been happy for exactly 3 months now and unhappy for the rest of his average career. I prefer to follow players that provide me with pleasure year in and year out.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 7:50 GMT)

The problem is that only he is able to come out with such spells for the Proteas. The rest don't know anything about reverse swing.

Posted by mmoosa on (February 26, 2014, 7:42 GMT)

Magnificent piece.Without overarching id have to say that Steyn,Imran,Marshall,Hadlee,Ambrose and Mcgrath stood alone as the leader of their pace packs,through thick and thin,wtih or without support. Generally Steyn,Immy and Hadlee carried their attacks..as reverse swing specilaists,Waqar and Wasim are the modern geniuses but what make Steyn special is his new ball outswinger which is amongst the best in the history of test cricket.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (February 26, 2014, 7:34 GMT)

Harris apart, the present Australian attack is just average outside of familiar conditions. Outside of Australia and South Africa, all of them average in the mid 30s- hardly earth shattering stuff (check out their career stats to know what I mean).

Posted by Dr.Tahir.M on (February 26, 2014, 7:33 GMT)

Nice artical.there were days when only Pakistan's great fast bowlers Imran & Sarfraz were reverse swinging the old ball.Then two Great "Ws" of Pakistan perfected this art.Thanks God Australians,Englishmen & South africans have learned this great weapon & now it is an Art & not cheating.I wonder how an artical on this great art can be concluded without mentioning Imran,Wasim & Waqar

Posted by gimme-a-greentop on (February 26, 2014, 7:30 GMT)

It's sad that all this talk of tampering and scuffing the ball will take away from the skill that Steyn has to execute his kind of bowling. Didn't Botham say that the only reason Wasim and Waqar got such swing was because they tampered the ball? There is always a bitter opponent trying to take away from skill. Same applies to Murali. I defy anyone to literally throw down offspinners etc. and take 800 or whatever Test wickets. Appreciate skill where it is found.

Posted by bijja on (February 26, 2014, 7:29 GMT)

What a beautifully written article! Mark Nicholas is a class act. His description of Steyn and his magic bowling is as awesome as Steyn himself.

Posted by MrKricket on (February 26, 2014, 7:28 GMT)

South Africa keeps their bowlers fresher by hardly playing any Test cricket - compare that with Aus over the past 10 months. It never seems to end and the bowlers had to wear out eventually. Aus has played 16 Tests since the start of the India tour. One more will either make them or break them. I'm thinking of the latter.

The reality is that we shouldn't have had the Ashes so soon after the last series. A five Test series vs SA is far more appropriate. Will we ever see it though? Not since the 60s.

Posted by Mitty2 on (February 26, 2014, 7:28 GMT)

@minuszero, lol did Centurion never happen for you? Because PE is more recent that means SA have a better attack? We have a far worse batting line up than SA and that has to be taken into account. Imagine if Doolan/Marsh were playing for SA - they'd get out in five seconds to MJ and Harris. At centurion SA's seamers were average and ineffective - only doing well with the tail and our attack reigned supreme. The tables reversed in PE, although our bowlers were actually still pretty good - SA's batsmen were supreme and didn't need dropped catches and luck. It's 1-1. And the battle between the attacks is 1-1, so yes... Why would Clarke change his mind?

Oh and to counter your ridiculous argument - what happens if Steyn doesn't play? Take the best bowler out and what do you expect to happen, there to be less wickets?! Shock! Horror!

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 7:23 GMT)

Truly amazing spell of High Octane,fast reverse swing bowling :) :) Joy to watch.Richly deserved a 5 wicket haul bad light prevented him from bowling to no 10 & 11!!!

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (February 26, 2014, 7:19 GMT)

Steyn is a good bowler no doubt,SA's best and can be quick too-can up it to high 140s when he wants.But its an o/reaction comparing to greats like Mcgrath,Waz/Waq the like on the basis of a good spell v the inexp.Aus bats.Even Mitch is better him a.t.m .

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 26, 2014, 7:16 GMT)

When it came to a straight contest between MJ and DS on a 'nothing' pitch, there wasn't even an argument. DS showed himself to be streets ahead of his Australian counterpart and it got me thinking about the preconceptions that so many people hold about the best fast bowlers being tall & physically imposing. I would contend that the greatest genuinely fast bowlers of the last 100 years are Malcolm Marshall, Larwood and Steyn - not one of them six foot tall. So should a short-of-inches pukka quick turns up in whatever country, I'd hope that he is given every encouragement to stay in the game & fulfil his potential. Like batsmen, fast bowlers dio not need to by physical giants: far from it. The dominance of great 'little men' cricketers is not the least appealing aspect of our game - and, as far as my understanding goes - it is not true of any other ball sport.

Posted by justsometurkey on (February 26, 2014, 7:15 GMT)

I don't care who is better! I want to see them both at their best!!!!! What a joy!!!!

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (February 26, 2014, 7:03 GMT)

all those who are criticising Harris, just remember, for someone who is supposed to bowl well only on wickets with pace and bounce, harris has a history of having delivered fantastically well in Sri Lanka, West Indies and the 2013 Ashes tour, where the wickets were all flat and mostly dry. So just after one tired effort at Port Elizabeth, don;t start giving your expert opinions

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 6:46 GMT)

Why is everyone so obsessed with Steyn's 4/55!? Sure, it was a very good spell, but 4/55 is hardly on a par with Johnson's 12-for in the First Test, is it!?

Posted by P0isonal on (February 26, 2014, 6:44 GMT)

In the record book having wicket more then 200, the strike rate of styne is best!! And among 100 wicket takers he is only behind vernon philander in all time greats!! He is truely a legend

Posted by cricketsubh on (February 26, 2014, 6:41 GMT)

i do not think these spell of steyn was batter then broods spell in 4th test in durham in the last ashes when aus chase 290 and make gud start at 140 for 0 broad destroyed aus bating line up with 6 for 50 and win them the match i do not agree with u only ateyn can do that in that situation steyn got 450 runs to play with england got only 290 od runs to play with .

Posted by ishrat1971 on (February 26, 2014, 6:34 GMT)

@minuszero True that, Lyon and of course the Mitch are performing their parts, but Siddle and Harris are not giving the captain the desired result. Maybe Harris should be rested and a fitter, younger bowler be given the reins to perform.

Posted by Sepathie on (February 26, 2014, 6:24 GMT)

Lasith Malinga did the same yesteday in onedayer against pakistan. 5 WICKETS FOR 11 RUNS. AMAZING.......

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (February 26, 2014, 6:17 GMT)

Great Article Mark, probably the best swing bowling I have seen in years. Such a pity David Warner went on to discredit the achievements of Steyn with accusations of cheating to the press.

Posted by CricketChat on (February 26, 2014, 6:16 GMT)

Steyn is the only bowler that comes to my mind who has consistently opened up test matches with devastating spells in the last 6/7 yrs. Mith Johnson did that recently against Eng. Great to see pace bowlers coming back to the top again. If injury free, Steyn can play at this level for another 3-4 yrs at least.

Posted by India_boy on (February 26, 2014, 6:13 GMT)

As a neutral fan, Johnson is still scarier and more difficult than Steyn to face when both are on song. At their peak, Johnson evokes fear and trauma (ask Smith and his broken hands) along with the agony of losing wickets while Steyn merely evokes fear of dismissal. But yes, Steyn is about ten times more effective with the old ball and on a dead pitch

Posted by mayankonthemove on (February 26, 2014, 6:05 GMT)

Time and again Steyn has proved how valuable he is for South Africa. His greatness doesn't lies in the speed and aggression but in winning matches on life less wickets like this one. I still remember his spell in Nagpur in 2010. India were 190 odd for 3 with two set batsmen (one of them was Viru at 100+). He came, he blazed and India were out all out within next 40-50 runs. A genuine FAST BOWLER definitely in the class of Holdings, Marshalls and McGraths

Posted by Everest8850 on (February 26, 2014, 6:05 GMT)

Dale Steyn is a gifted bowler and Mark Nicholas has the gift of words ! Well written...As with the second test against India Dale Steyn changed the match with superb skill, commitment and an internal desire to overcome. No greater pleasure in your cricketing life than to vanquish Australia (although beating the Poms normally ranks quite high when they have a good team!).

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 6:00 GMT)

Long live the fat bowler!

Posted by lokesh16 on (February 26, 2014, 5:20 GMT)

beautiful voice as well as vews of mark nicolas!!!! truly amazing ..big fan of him:-)

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 26, 2014, 5:18 GMT)

@SLSup: No, just cooler. Looks cooler, bowls cooler, simple as that. I just like Johnson more than Steyn no matter what steyn does.

Posted by ShutTheGate on (February 26, 2014, 5:12 GMT)

@ SLSUP

Lillee and Steyn's figures are very similar. 23.92 avg v 22.89, strike rate of 52 compared to 42, economy rate of 2.75 v 3.26

However Steyn does not have to bowl at the West Indian great batsmen.

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 26, 2014, 5:10 GMT)

In a generation from now, people will be talking about Steyn as a legend taken in the same awe-stricken breath as bowlers like Marshall, Walsh, Lillee, Ambrose and Wasim. He belongs right up there with the pantheon of legends for his excellence and domination over a period of more than half a decade - playing during an era of the most batsman-friendly conditions in cricket history. If he played in another era, he would have pulverized his opponents even more than he already has.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 5:05 GMT)

@Slsup What will you say about Richard Hadlee then?

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 4:46 GMT)

no doubting of Steyn's ability.... he can be mean and brutal.... he was at his magic best

Posted by SLSup on (February 26, 2014, 4:37 GMT)

response to xtrafalgarx: Haha. Did you say Johnson is still "cooler" than Steyn. Did you mean less EFFECTIVE? I am confused.

Posted by SLSup on (February 26, 2014, 4:25 GMT)

As a former fan of Aussies and Lillee I can say this of Steyn: ONE GREATER THAN LILLEE IS HERE. All you have to do is look at the overall record and where the national team stands because of Steyn.

I have to agree with Bobby Thomas, it's a bit much to compare the swing with what Waqar and Wasim could do with the old ball! I'd say Steyn did well without it!

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 26, 2014, 4:15 GMT)

Johnson's still cooler than Steyn...

Posted by MinusZero on (February 26, 2014, 4:06 GMT)

I wonder if Clarke still believes Australia's attack is the best? Only Johnson has been making them look better than they are. Harris needs wickets soon.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 3:49 GMT)

'..the ghosts of Wasim and Waqar?'Hahahaha.Overall,a smidge over-dramatic wouldnt you say?

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Mark NicholasClose
Mark Nicholas A prolific and stylish middle-order batsman for Hampshire, Mark Nicholas was unlucky never to have played for England, but after captaining his county to four major trophies he made his reputation as a presenter, commentator and columnist. Named the UK Sports Presenter of the Year in 2001 and 2005 by the Royal Television Society, he has commentated all over the world, from the World Cup in the West Indies to the Indian Premier League. He now hosts the cricket coverage for Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in England.

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