[imagesource: Alexander Joe / AFP / Getty Images]
Yesterday, Dale Steyn announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
Arguably the greatest fast bowler of the modern era, Steyn hangs up his boots as South Africa’s leading test wicket taker, having claimed 439 scalps during his 93-match career.
In addition, he took 196 ODI wickets, and 64 T20I wickets.
Steyn announced his retirement with this message across his social media accounts:
— Dale Steyn (@DaleSteyn62) August 31, 2021
I’m going to have to dock some points for listing Counting Crows as your favourite band.
Other than that, superb.
As news of his retirement spread and cricketers and fans around the world paid tribute, the usual stats were bandied about.
Take for example his test match bowling strike rate (balls bowled per wicket taken):
During his reign at the top of the test match bowling rankings, he really was streaks ahead of the rest:
Peak Statistical Steyn… bowlers with 500+ overs in Tests, in five year period from 2007 to 2011… Steyn 228 wickets average 21.0, strike rate 37.7. Next best average: Asif, 76 at 25.6. Next best strike rate: Edwards, 50.0. https://t.co/hajW8o9xPo https://t.co/OqzPioM2Ap
— Andy Zaltzman (@ZaltzCricket) August 31, 2021
For those of us fortunate enough to watch him play during this era, none of the above is surprising.
However, renowned statistician Andrew Samson did unearth something that has largely flown under the radar.
Steyn has spoken about how much he enjoyed his batting, and his lofty ambitions with willow in hand (“maybe not a number seven but a reliable number eight or a really decent number nine”), and in Boxing Day test matches, he more than delivered:
While he was one of the truly great bowlers, my favourite Dale Steyn stat is his batting record in Boxing Day Tests: He scored 400 runs in 15 innings at 33.33 with 2 x 50 and including his 5 best scores.
— Andrew Samson (@AWSStats) August 31, 2021
Those stats are all the more impressive when measured against the Boxing Day test batting averages of other renowned cricketers:
Boxing Day Test batting averages lower than Dale Steyn’s 33.33:
S Fleming 32.30
H Gibbs 32.00
G Smith 31.63
A Gilchrist 30.36
C Pujara 30.30
M Hussey 29.71
VVS Laxman 28.45
S Ganguly 28.00
D Cullinan 25.83
G Chappell 24.80
A Prince 24.63
R Dravid 24.53
H Amla 21.38
Min 10 inns
— Andrew Samson (@AWSStats) August 31, 2021
Herschelle Gibbs was likely nursing a hangover every Boxing Day, but Hashim Amla doesn’t have that excuse.
If I was Dale, I would certainly be pinging Graeme Smith a WhatsApp to point out that superior average.
His most famous Boxing Day test knock was the 76 he made against Australia at the MCG in 2008, when he added 180 with JP Duminy.
We may as well enjoy the great man reliving the moment:
Fine, we can squeeze in a rapid-fire look at Dale knocking over Ozzie batters on their home turf:
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) September 1, 2021
For the final word, here’s Dale chatting with journalist Neil Manthorp about what comes next:
Well COVID, kind of messed things up. I really wanted to just travel around the world, do a lot of fishing and go and surf some of the most amazing places. I actually wanted to follow the follow the WSL (World Surf League), especially when they go to places like Tahiti and Teahupo’o and Hawaii, those are just absolutely beautiful places which are on my bucket list to visit. So why not go and visit when they’re hosting a great surfing so you can watch the best in the world do the business? If you ever want to watch something exhilarating, just go onto YouTube and search “Teahupo’o” and see how big those waves get!
…I look forward to seeing what comes next. Motto in life? Not really…I suppose just enjoy your life, enjoy what you do, if you do enjoy what you do, you’re going to see far greater results. If you have kids let them play all the sports they can until they find ‘the’ one. In my case it was cricket, but I did everything from skateboarding to soccer to hockey. I used all those skill sets to succeed in cricket so follow me on Instagram and you’ll see what I’m up to in my life.
Dale, here’s hoping your Instagram is soon full of pictures of fishing, skating, surfing, your beloved dogs, and everything else you look forward to in your second innings.
Thanks for all the memories.
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