Commentators cited the pitch as a demon and unlike something one will find in India and more like something that would be found in South Africa. But the deliveries Dale Steyn bowled to pick up those 5 wickets were peaches! He got Sehwag and Dravid with beauties, one an inswinger and the other an outswinger. And it was the same pitch on which RP, Sreesanth, and Pathan could do little.
Does this make Dale Steyn an outstanding bowler?
Probably, but he is defnitely the most exciting fast bowler around these days. I remember the 4 wickets in 2 overs that he took in a 20-20 match against the Windies. What a display of fast bowling that was. I haven't seen such good yorkers consistently since the days of Waqar Younis.
So, how good is Dale Steyn?
- He has taken 117 wickets in 22 tests at an average of 21.41. That includes 8 5WI and 2 10WM.
- 75 of those wickets have come in his last 11 tests since October 2007. Both the 10 wicket hauls and 6 of the 5 wicket hauls have come in this period.
- His average of 21.41 is the best average among current test bowlers. Better than Bond, Brett Lee, and Mohammad Asif. Even better than the retired Glenn McGrath, Alan Donald, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis. Among contemporary cricketers only Curtley Ambrose betters that average.
- His strike rate is 35.6 which is 2nd on the all time list of best strike rates! Higher than Shane Bond, higher than Brett Lee, higher than Waqar Younis! Even higher than the Barnes and Tyson one frequently hears of when strike rates are mentioned. Only George Lohmann betters him.
I believe that makes him very very good. Probaby even the best fast bowler this season - I will be surprised if anyone else has more than his 75 wickets in 11 tests this season.
The question though is - can he continue in the same vein?
Despite my dislike for South Africans, I hope he can. He is one of the more exciting players to come from that part of the world. There's little better than watching a fast bowler in full flow knocking stumps over and it doesn't matter who he is playing for.
How good do you think he is?
He's only 24. Provided he can stay injury free he can play for another 8-10 years. 500 test wicket potential? Probably. Another fast bowling great? Possibly. Best South African fast bowler? Definitely.
(Pic Source: Getty Images, UK Telegraph)