Cape Town – Dale
Steyn was within a couple of strikes against Pakistan on Monday of becoming the
fourth-highest fast bowling Test wicket-taker of all time.
sink in … it mightily deserves to.
vital wickets to finally break open the tourists’ second innings in the third
Test at the Wanderers on Sunday drew him level with England’s also still active
Stuart Broad on 433 scalps.
Africa needing seven further wickets on days four and five to bowl out the
Pakistanis in their tough pursuit of a target of 381 (from 153 for three), who
would bet against Steyn being among the Proteas’ seamers to get stuck in again?
At the time
of writing, just ahead of the start of play, one more strike takes him above
Broad; two would lift him above the long-retired Indian Kapil Dev, currently on
434 (average 29.64).
So once he
has advanced to 435 or beyond, he automatically becomes the fourth most
prolific pace-bowling wicket-taker in history … only behind James Anderson
(England, 565), Glenn McGrath (Australia, 563) and Courtney Walsh (West Indies,
At the same
time, he would become the seventh most productive of all types of bowlers: the
Test list is headed by a trio of spinners in Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka,
800), Shane Warne (Australia, 708) and Anil Kumble (India, 619).
Phalaborwa Express may, admittedly, remain in a ding-dong battle on his section
of the illustrious table with Broad for a fair while yet – especially as the
lanky Englishman is about to participate in his country’s series in the
Caribbean and Anderson, too, should only keep adding to his enormous tally
But both of
those two have played many more Tests than Steyn: Anderson 145, and Broad 124.
The South African’s average after his own more modest 91 caps (including the
ongoing Bullring one) is 22.72, considerably superior to both Anderson (26.98)
and Broad (29.04).
a year older than Steyn at 36, so his career – like the Proteas man -- cannot
be too far from conclusion, though Broad has the advantage on both of being a
rather younger 32.
traditionally play a higher annual volume of Tests than South Africa do,
something else that should work in Broad’s favour further down the line.
Steyn is not going to slip too significantly down the international
wicket-grabbing table in the foreseeable future.
when it comes to pace/seam bowlers, both Steyn and Broad have a massive cushion
over any current pace rivals as things stand.
plethora of retired legends, and in distant 37th on the overall Test
wickets list, is India’s Ishant Sharma: the beanpole, aged 30, has bagged 267
scalps at 34.28, and has an awful lot of work to do yet if he is to get to
high hopes in South Africa, of course, for someone like Kagiso Rabada, the
rising gem who already sports (at 23 years old) 165 wickets at a sublime 21.62
in 35 Test matches.
But he is
operating in an era when Test cricket is increasingly challenged for both
attention and rostering purposes by limited-overs tournaments, both of the
50-overs and Twenty20 variety.
have workloads across the formats like never before, and injuries are likely to
become only more commonplace among quickies unless they are properly managed - which is not always guaranteed.
It may be
better, like Steyn, Broad and others, to have their Test wickets already safely
in the bank?
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