India in SA
Steyn 'was 2010 star'
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Dale Steyn (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – The Proteas’ Dale Steyn was the cricketer who most illuminated 2010, says the sport’s premier specialist website Cricinfo.
India-based editor Sambit Bal produced that verdict in a review of the calendar year on Thursday.
Motivating his decision, he said: “By a distance it was Sachin Tendulkar’s year with the bat, but push me to pick a player of the year and I will unhesitatingly plump for Steyn.
“(James) Anderson and Graeme Swann took nearly as many wickets, but no one took them more breathtakingly than Steyn. For that matter he also took them more regularly.
“Steyn is that rarest of species, a genuine fast bowler who swings the ball late. The outswinger is his stock ball, but the predictability hardly makes it easier. He bowls a great length, and his perfect ball begins its journey with the natural angle inwards to the right-hand batsman and starts shaping out fractionally prior to hitting the pitch, but the line is still around middle and off, so the batsman has no option but to play it; only if he is lucky in the extreme does it evade the edge.
“Steyn destroyed India in the first innings in Centurion and Durban, but those were pitches and conditions tailor-made for him. His performance of the year, and arguably the bowling performance of the year, came against the same opposition, but on a flat wicket in Nagpur.
“After South Africa had plundered 558 for 6, Steyn removed Murali Vijay and Tendulkar in a searing opening spell and blew out the lower order with a five-wicket burst in his third spell.
“During the Boxing Day Test his career strike rate dipped under 40 and he now stands as the best among those who have taken more than 200 Test wickets. In this club, only three bowlers -- Muttiah Muralitharan, Richard Hadlee and Clarrie Grimmett -- have a better five-wicket-haul-per-Test ratio than him.
“If he can maintain his fitness and enthusiasm, he should end up as one of the all-time greats. Cricket needs the likes of him.”
Steyn, of course, carried on where he left off in 2010 by grabbing five for 75 in India’s first innings in the New Year Test at Newlands, taking his series tally to 20.