The work of art called Steyn gun

He leaves behind immortal Test memories, showcasing his enormous skills, slicing through line-ups, conquering, and celebrating with his unique pumping-the-ground style.

Dale Steyn of the Proteas during day 4 of the 1st Test match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban, South Africa. (File Photo)   -  Getty

Fast bowling is explosive in nature. When a genuine quick lands in the process of delivering a ball, he withstands ground forces several times his body weight. 

Yet, Dale Steyn glided to the crease in his run-up, light on his feet much like a ballet dancer, and released the sphere with an action that was astonishingly smooth. 

Every delivery of his, from run-up to load-up to release was a work of art. The South African brought grace to an otherwise brutal craft. 

But then, the ease with which he sent down his thunderbolts masked the enormous effort he put in for every ball of his. 

When asked who the best contemporary fast bowler was in South Africa last year, Michael Holding, who earned the moniker the 'Whispering Death' for his silky style, replied, “Dale Steyn, of course. A complete fast bowler.”

And this was a period when Steyn, past his best, was being stymied by fitness concerns. 

It’s sad that Steyn will not be figuring in Test cricket any more. But at 36, his body scarred by injuries and several failed comebacks to the longest format, he had given it his all for Tests.

He leaves behind immortal Test memories, showcasing his enormous skills, slicing through line-ups, conquering, and celebrating with his unique pumping-the-ground style.

Steyn had a lot going for him as he decimated teams in different conditions. Nobody sent down those speedy outswingers of control and viciousness better than he did in this era.

He mixed them with potent inswingers, high on accuracy. When the ball got older, Steyn could unleash deadly reverse swing; all at velocity between 145 to 150 kmph.

The manner he employed his wrist and used the seam position lent cutting edge to his bowling. Steyn could bowl effective cross seam as well.  

There was little respite for the batsmen. He could hurt them with his fast, skiddy bouncers, delivered from a deceptive quick-arm action.

Steyn’s bowling was not just about ability and beauty. It was much about heart and spirit. He would keep his belief and bowl with the same intensity and speed during wicket-less spells, find a way, and then come up with a bunch of scalps. 

His numbers are staggering. No bowler with 200 or more wickets has a better strike rate than Steyn’s 42.30 in Test history. 

And while picking up 439 wickets in 93 Tests, Steyn averaged under 25, both home and away. A captain’s dream, Steyn bowled the Proteas to famous Test victories in Australia, New Zealand, England and the sub-continent. At home he was a force of nature.  

Steyn inspired a new generation of South African pacemen, Kagiso Rabada being the foremost among them. 

Steyn, truly, was a thing of beauty in Test cricket.