Dale Steyn, the legendary South African pacer, has announced his retirement from Test cricket. The 36-year-old said that he made the decision to prolong his career. Steyn, though, will continue to be on a national contract in white-ball cricket and therefore is available to play for South Africa in One-Day and T20 Internationals.
In his retirement statement, the fast bowler spoke highly of Test cricket, confessing how he found it to be the “best version of the game”.
“Today I walk away from a format of the game I love so much. In my opinion Test cricket is the best version of this game,” Steyn said. “It tests you mentally, physically, emotionally. It’s terrible to consider never playing another Test again 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. I’d like to thank everyone in cricket, no one specific, because everyone has been a part of my journey. And I look forward to continuing to play for the Proteas in the shorter formats,” he added.
The great South African paceman has been laid low by a spate of injuries in recent times. In December 2015, he injured his shoulder in the Durban Test versus England and was ruled out of the rest of the rubber. Dr Steve Roche conducted the surgery to re-attach his coracaid. Unfortunately, for Steyn, he again injured the coracaid process – which in turn helps to articulate the tip of the upper arm (called the humerus) and the collar bone – during the Perth Test in 2016. Steyn returned for the Test series against India in 2018, but only to sustain a “freakish” foot injury.
He made a successful comeback to the Test arena during the 2018-19, playing against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. However, he suffered another shoulder problem during the IPL 2019 and subsequently, couldn’t play in the World Cup due to the injury.
Steyn made his Test debut way back in December 2004 against England at Port Elizabeth, found his way into the Test side on the back of a fine show in the 2004-05 domestic season, which included a five-wicket haul against Warriors in October. On his Test debut, Steyn showed promise by bagging the scalps of both Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan.
Steyn ends his Test career as South Africa’s highest wicket-taker with 439 scalps at an average of just 22.95. He picked up a rich haul of 26 five-fors, including game-changing spells on subcontinental wickets of Karachi, Nagpur and Galle. He was also instrumental in helping South Africa post a historic Test series win in Australia in 2008-09 by picking up a 10-wicket haul in the match and also a crucial fifty in the MCG Test.
His best bowling figures for a match came in the Wanderers Test versus Pakistan in February 2013 when he bagged 11 wickets for just 60 runs. He also has the fifth best strike rate among retired cricketers in Test cricket (qualification: 2000 balls), behind George Lohmann, JJ Ferris, Shane Bond and Sydney Barnes.
“Dale is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats of cricket,” Cricket South Africa Chief Executive Thabang Moroe 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.”