PRETORIA, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Dale Steyn, long considered South Africa’s greatest fast bowler, confirmed his status statistically when he became the country’s leading test wicket-taker on Wednesday.
Steyn, plagued by injury for the last three years, had Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman (12) caught at second slip by Dean Elgar to move to 422 test wickets, taking outright top spot on South Africa’s all-time list from Shaun Pollock.
It has taken Steyn 89 tests to reach that mark, 19 fewer than his former team mate, and his strike rate of a wicket every 42.1 balls is only bettered among current players by compatriot Kagiso Rabada (39.2).
Steyn is arguably the greatest test seamer of his generation, and would probably have past 500 wickets by now were it not for serious shoulder, foot and groin injuries that have restricted him to only seven tests in the last three years.
“I must admit that when I was standing at the top of my mark (after taking the wicket) I almost pushed a tear. There was a lump in my throat because I didn’t think it would happen,” Steyn told South Africa’s SuperSport.
“There have been a lot of test matches and, hopefully, there is a lot more to come.”
Pollock was among the first to congratulate Steyn, having been on air commentating when Zaman’s wicket fell at Centurion Park, later sending a personal message.
“A heartfelt congratulations to Dale‚ he’s been a fantastic bowler for South Africa for so long. His performances both home and away have been remarkable in so many ways‚” Pollock said.
“The fact that he is the best test fast bowler that South Africa has produced‚ doesn’t require my endorsement as his stats and record tell you that.
“I have enjoyed so many attributes of Dale’s bowling through his international career‚ the ability to swing the ball at high speed upfront‚ reverse swing the ball with devastating effect, bowl with great control and within himself as well as being able to crank it up with high speed hostile bowling on very flat surfaces at times – have all been his hallmarks.”
Former test team mate AB de Villiers took to Twitter to send his congratulations.
“Dale Steyn, we salute you! What a man, what a player. Fitting that ‘Simply the best’ is playing at SuperSport Park, where everything started! Congrats legend.”
Former South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis also paid tribute to his former team mate.
“Well done Dale Steyn. Well deserved. The work you put in behind closed doors pays off. This is a perfect example. Hopefully, many more wickets still lie ahead.”
Steyn (1-66) helped South Africa dismiss Pakistan for 181 in the first innings of the opening test, but the home side were struggling on 127 for five in reply at the close.
Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond