Australia in SA

Bullring ideal for Steyn’s bid

2011-11-14 14:12
Dale Steyn (Gallo)
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 Bullring.

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 game.

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 innings).

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 charge.

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 ...

Read more on:    australia in sa  |  dale steyn  |  cape town
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