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Steyn among the best ever

The South African cricket team has been successful for quite a lengthy period of time in the test match format of the game. I reckon that watching them go about their work in recent times though has been nothing short of exhilarating. It has been very much like watching a powerful, yet graceful, machine doing exactly what it is supposed to do with great proficiency.

Should one get an opportunity to see this side play, passing it up would be voluntarily missing out on a collective exhibition of some fabulous skills. It does not happen often that one team possesses such a lineup of stars that have so much entertainment value. Several players in he current team may well end up in the Cricket Hall of Fame once their careers are done.

Seldom is it only one of the stars that grabs the limelight when the Proteas play, but in the first test match against Pakistan at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, one Dale Steyn was just magnificent. While the condition of the Wanderers pitch did favour and assist the fast bowlers, it is important to note that that the likes of Junaid Khan and Umar Gul had had a go on the surface before him and had bowled quite well too. That Steyn surpassed their performances and out-bowled every other seamer is an illustration of how absolutely superb he was.

It has been many years now that Dale Steyn has churned out brilliant displays that have either got his team back into a match or clinched the game. His prolonged stay at the top of the world rankings is evidence of that and there is not a single soul who would argue about Steyn currently being the best fast bowler in the world.

A statement made by another of South Africa’s great fast bowlers, Shaun Pollock, got me thinking and trying to compare all of South Africa’s quicks and also wondering where Steyn stacked up against all those who had gone before in the game. Yes, it is always tough to measure the influence of a player in a different era as there are circumstances and situations that the statistics do not account for or show adequately, if at all, but still, there is no harm in trying. What the statistics do show is remarkable enough in itself.

So, who then would Steyn be alongside in the great list of fast bowlers that have played this wonderful game of cricket?

A few of my colleagues threw up the names of many a great quick bowlers such as Dennis Lillee, Malcolm Marshall, Richard Hadlee, Wasim Akram, Allan Donald, Waqar Younis, Glenn McGrath, Curtly Ambrose, Michael Holding....the list is endless really and it would be near impossible to separate these men as they each had something about them that made us all want to watch them in full flight.

Fast bowlers of great renown are praised as they were very effective in the teams that they played in and could always “make something happen”. The great pace and raw aggression merged with amazing skill and control is, aesthetically, the pinnacle for those who love to watch fast bowling. It gets no better than watching any of those men, whether they bound in to the crease like Ambrose in full flow, charge in from the sight screen like Younis or glide across the turf like Holding did.

As he gallops like a gazelle across the African plains, Steyn is a sight to behold. He too has aggression, pace, control and great skill, just like many of those men who played the game long before he was born and entertained so many. He too delights most, if not all, who watch him. Even his opponents, despite their trepidation of having to deal with the deliveries he hurls down, will admit that watching him gracefully do damage is thrilling.

He is not done yet but was he not to bowl another of those 90mph out-swingers that have flummoxed so many batsmen, Steyn would go down, in my book, among the list of great fast men.

What do you reckon?

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