Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – The Wanderers seems the perfect
place for Dale Steyn to try to equal Dennis Lillee’s record for fastest man to
250 Test wickets from Thursday.
With its reasonably unaltered reputation
for bounce and healthy carry, the venue has often been kind to pace bowlers
–and Proteas spearhead Steyn unsurprisingly boasts an excellent record at the
Legendary Australian speedster Lillee, now
62, reached the 250-milestone in his 48th Test, and Steyn stands
enticingly on 244 scalps from 47 appearances for South Africa in the five-day
So six wickets in the second and final Test
in Johannesburg against an Aussie side considered to be in some disarray after
turning likely victory – at one stage, anyway -- into ignominious defeat at
Newlands would take the Phalaborwa Express level.
Statistically, the portents for Steyn to
get there are excellent.
The Wanderers is one of the grounds where
the 28-year-old has excelled to an even greater extent than his overall record
in Tests: he has grabbed 31 wickets in six Tests there at an average of 21.09,
which beats his total average at present of 22.96.
And Steyn has grabbed seven match wickets
or more in three of his last four Tests at the Wanderers where he has been able
to play a full part with the ball (in 2006/07 he pulled up injured after
bowling only 10 overs against India and could not bowl at all in their second
So the only real exception is the previous
Wanderers Test against the Aussies three summers when they won the first
encounter and Steyn got “only” five scalps in the game.
Otherwise he has been in business there,
big time: he grabbed seven against England in a crushing innings win two
seasons ago, including a first-innings five-for, and shared the
man-of-the-match award on that occasion with fellow head-hunter Morne Morkel.
Two Wanderers Tests against hapless New
Zealand, meanwhile, have seen Steyn at his most lethal; he got a 10-wicket haul
the last time South Africa played the Black Caps there – five and five – and
another seven on the previous occasion.
As things stand, South African bowling coach
Allan Donald is second to Lillee in terms of stealth to 250 wickets, having reached
the landmark in 50 Tests, so his position is especially endangered by Steyn’s
Not that White Lightning will be complaining
if Steyn does reach the mark in the second Test and simultaneously plays a
prominent part in the Proteas beating Australia in a home series for the first
time since 1969/70 ...