South African fast bowler Dale Steyn announces retirement from Test cricket
August 6, 2019 | 10:50 PM
by Agencies
Steyn's career has been increasingly affected by injury in recent years, notably during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 when he was unable to play a single game. - ICC

Cape Town: Dale Steyn, one of the greatest fast bowlers in history, has called time on his Test career with immediate effect.

Steyn played 93 Tests for South Africa, finishing with 439 wickets, the most in the long format by a Proteas bowler. His strike-rate of 42.3 balls per wicket is the best of anyone with more than 200 Test wickets, while his 263 weeks spent atop the ICC MRF Tyres Test Bowling Rankings is also unmatched by any other bowler.

However, Steyn's career has been increasingly affected by injury in recent years, notably during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 when he was unable to play a single game, and he has chosen to step away from one form of the game to increase his longevity in the others. "It’s terrible to consider never playing another Test again," he said.

"But what’s more terrifying is the thought of never playing again at all. So I will be focusing on ODIs and T20s for the rest of my career to maximise my full potential and ensure my longevity in this sport." He remains nationally contracted for the 2019/20 season, and CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe led the tributes to Steyn.

“Dale is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats of cricket," he said. "From the time he made his Test debut against England in 2004 and dismissed their captain, Michael Vaughan, with a superb delivery, he has been one of the standout fast bowlers in world cricket.

"He has led the South African attack brilliantly and has set the standard for our future generations to follow. More than that he has been a wonderful mentor to our next generation of speedsters. We were saddened to hear of his decision, but it is one that management has to accept, and we thank him for his significant contribution to the sport and to the nation and wish him everything of the very best for the future.”

Here are three of his best Test performances.

5/47 v New Zealand, SuperSport Park, Centurion, 15-19 April 2006

Steyn’s maiden five-wicket haul was a vital one, swinging an evenly poised Test decisively the way of South Africa. Jacob Oram’s century had given the visitors a 51-run lead after the first innings, and South Africa replied with 299 to leave a target of 248 to win. However, Steyn and Makhaya Ntini made sure they would not get close, claiming five wickets each.

Ntini removed the top three and then Steyn came in and gutted the middle order, dismissing Stephen Fleming, Scott Styris, Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori. He sealed the win and his own milestone by bowling Chris Martin to end New Zealand’s innings with the Black Caps 128 runs short of victory.

5/23 v India, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, 3-7 April 2008

India had racked up 627 in a drawn first Test, and the surface looked full of runs again – as proved when AB de Villiers notched a double and South Africa neared 500 in the second innings. But the first belonged to Steyn, who claimed Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid in an inspired opening spell before returning to lop off the tail, the hosts all out for 76. It remains India’s second lowest Test total at home.

5/87, 5/67, 76 v Australia, Melbourne Cricket Ground, 26-30 December 2008

One of the greatest all-round performances in Test history came from a man who would only make one more half-century in his entire Test career. First up, Steyn’s five-for limited Australia to 394 in the first innings, but it still seemed plenty when South Africa slipped to 251/8 in reply.

Enter Steyn, who made 76 in a 180-run stand with JP Duminy – whose 166 was one of the all-time great Test innings – to give the Proteas an unlikely 65-run lead. Steyn was soon back in the action once more, dismissing four of Australia’s top six on his way to 10 wickets in the match. South Africa chased 183 comfortably, and, having completed the second highest chase in Test history in the first game of the series, a maiden series win in Australia was theirs.

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