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'No more sore toes' - Dale Steyn brings curtain down on illustrious career

He might turn to coaching but, for now, the iconic South African quick just wants to be a "dog dad"

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
There will be "no more sore toes" for Dale Steyn, who announced his retirement from all cricket with a Counting Crows song on his Twitter handle on Tuesday. He told ESPNcricinfo that his decision was prompted partly by the Covid-19 pandemic, and partly because, at 38, he is looking forward to "life starting again" after 18 years of professional cricket.
"I guess Covid-19 kind of made me see things differently, it wasn't fun anymore. And if it's not fun then it's not worth doing," Steyn said. In his social media post, he summed up his state of mind as "bitter sweet but grateful".
Steyn, South Africa's highest Test wicket-taker with 439 strikes in 93 games, made his professional debut in 2003 in a first-class game for Northerns. He stepped away from the longest format two years ago, to concentrate on white-ball cricket. Since then, he has not played in any ODIs and only three T20Is, though he did have plans of playing in one more T20 World Cup.
Steyn had initially planned to reassess his career options after the 2020 T20 World Cup. Then, the pandemic struck and the World Cup was moved to late 2021, and Steyn fell out of South Africa's plans. He last played a T20I in March 2020, when South Africa hosted Australia, but was not offered a national contract that April and was unavailable for their home series against England late last year. He has subsequently missed T20Is against Pakistan, at home and away, West Indies, Ireland and now, Sri Lanka.
At the same time, his participation in T20 leagues has been on the wane. In January, Steyn made himself unavailable for Royal Challengers Bangalore's campaign at the 2021 edition of the IPL but emphasised he was not retiring. At the time, he said he would play other T20 leagues "nicely spaced out" to allow him to pursue other things. He went on to play in the Lanka Premier League in December last year and the PSL in February, and turned out as an expert as part of ESPNcricinfo's coverage of the 2021 IPL.
After starting his representative cricket career for Northerns, Steyn got his South Africa cap the following year, in a Test against England in Port Elizabeth. He made his ODI debut for Africa XI against Asia XI, in 2005, before he had played a 50-over match for South Africa, and was capped 125 times (196 wickets at an average of 22.95) in the format. Steyn also played 47 T20Is (64 wickets at an average of 18.35 and economy of 6.94) and finished with 699 international wickets.
Steyn was part of 28 out of 42 ODI series wins for South Africa, and seven out of 20 T20I series wins. He played in two 50-over World Cups, in 2011 and 2015, the second where he bowled the last over in the semi-final against New Zealand that South Africa lost, and in five T20 World Cups - from 2009 to 2016. While his reputation as a red-ball bowler often eclipsed his white-ball skills, at his best, Steyn was ranked No. 2 in ODIs and No.5 in T20Is.
Steyn is known for his sharp analysis and his ability to explain the technicalities of bowling, especially to young players, and has played mentoring roles at tournaments like the PSL. Though he has hinted that he might consider a role in coaching after "upskilling" himself, for now, he is committed to pursuing other interests. Asked if he they include sports like surfing or skateboarding, Steyn laughed, saying that he would first concentrate on his role as a "dog dad" - Steyn is the proud owner of four dogs, Sadie, a Labrador, and Chobe, Mowgli, and Reece, all Border Collies.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent