Cricket 2.7.2018 05:41 pm

Why Dale Steyn and (maybe) not KG Rabada is Proteas’ key man in Sri Lanka

Dale Steyn during day 2 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and India at PPC Newlands on January 06, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)

Dale Steyn during day 2 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and India at PPC Newlands on January 06, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)

No-one’s denying that Test cricket’s top ranked quick is ‘gold’ but his 35-year-old teammate is ominously hungry for victims.

When Faf du Plessis was asked about his bowling plans for the Proteas’ upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka, the national captain made it clear he’ll rely heavily on his seamers.

Given that the Island is generally thought to suit spinners better, it might sound like a strange tactic.

“No matter what the conditions are, a big strength of our team will always be our fast bowlers. Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander are all wicket-taking bowlers,” said Du Plessis.

“Those three have proven they can do it in any conditions.”

He’s got some justification for that.

In 1993, Brett Schultz’s left-arm thunderbolts helped the Proteas secure a historic Test series win over the Sri Lankans, in the process ending with 20 wickets in the three-Test series.

It’s still the most by a South African in a series on the Island.

And in 2014, the Proteas’ other triumph was also very much reliant on the skills of the seamers.

Du Plessis rightly pointed out that Rabada is “gold”, one of his more important lines had to do with Steyn.

“Dale has got a fantastic record in the subcontinent.”

Indeed, even though the 23-year-old Rabada “will be able to do everything” it’s arguably the 35-year-old Steyn that could really proved the Proteas’ biggest weapon.

The veteran truly does have an outstanding record on the subcontinent.

Steyn has taken 90 wickets in just 20 Tests in Asia, which includes his magnificent career-best haul of 7/51 against India in Nagpur.

In Sri Lanka, he’s claimed 21 victims in just four Test at an average of 24.71.

But to put that into perspective, it’s useful to provide a reminder of his influence in 2014’s 153-run win in Galle, usually a nightmare venue for the Proteas.

In a display of his greatness, Steyn bowled with pace and gained both conventional and reverse swing to claim match figures of 9/99 – 5/54 and 4/45 – and the best by a quick bowler at the ground.

Given his self-proclaimed hunger to take 500 Test wickets, don’t bet against him flourishing from next week onwards.

 

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