Cape Town – South Africa’s leading all-time wicket-taker in
one-day internationals has simple advice over the conundrum of whether to field
Dale Steyn in the dead-rubber fixture against India at Centurion on Wednesday:
let him loose if he’s 100 percent fit.
But, says Shaun Pollock, if there’s the slightest hint of a
niggle it would be better to preserve him for the Test series starting next
week at the Wanderers.
Pollock, fifth on the global list for wickets taken in the
format with 393, told Sport24: “I think they’ll need to get inside and really
gauge whether he is in a good space (physically) to play at SuperSport Park.
“There is some merit to him keeping his mental edge over the
Indians, ahead of the Test series, and there is also still a fair enough
turnaround time to day one at the Wanderers (next Wednesday).
“But if he is carrying any injuries, no matter how small,
then obviously it also makes sense to sit him out.”
This writer understands that there is a greater likelihood
of the Phalaborwa Express not playing, especially as Highveld conditions look
like staying damp and slippery for the third ODI where South Africa will be
seeking a clean sweep over the World Cup champions, although a decision is
likely to be deferred to shortly before the start of play.
Pollock agreed that Steyn had reached a high point in his
ODI career of late: he has taken a stellar 20 wickets in his last five ODIs
against either Pakistan or India.
“He’s had the wood over the Pakistani batsmen for some time;
that was the catalyst for this run of success. But yes, he is probably at his
best ever levels yet in the format and long may it continue.”
Steyn currently sports 123 ODI scalps at an average of
25.49, and has moved back up to fifth on the world rankings, to add to his long-time
premier slot on the Test ladder.
Only six South Africans are above him for wickets in ODIs:
Pollock (393), Jacques Kallis (273), Allan Donald (272), Makhaya Ntini (266),
Lance Klusener (192) and current team-mate Morne Morkel (just one ahead of him
As far as can be established, none of those above Steyn have
ever managed such a golden harvest in the wickets column from five ODIs on the
trot, although Donald once netted 21 in six (17 in the first five) in a period
in late 1996.
He started that run with his career-best haul of 6/23 against
Kenya in Nairobi – the Kenyans were much stronger then than they are these
days, sadly – and stretched his explosive form into a Titan Cup series in
India, also featuring the home team and Australia.
*South Africa have already released Kallis from the last
ODI, a slightly puzzling decision given that the veteran is seemingly in need
of a major innings to get into suitable groove for the Tests.
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing