We knew something like this would happen soon. And now it has.
South African speedster Dale Steyn announced his retirement from Test cricket on the 5th of August, 2019, with immediate effect. The pacer, who was part of the South African squad in the World Cup 2019 but had to bow out because of injury, had been struggling with various niggles for a while now and has been regularly in and out of the side. Hence, it was a given that the 36-year-old bowler was struggling to keep fit with his injuries and playing the longest form of the game would have been too taxing for Steyn in his present state.
The decision wouldn’t have been easy for Steyn who was South Africa’s highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 439 wickets in 93 Tests. However, he will continue to be available for South Africa in ODIs and T20Is and must be targeting the ICC World T20 in Australia next year.
“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,” Steyn said in a statement to the press about his retirement.
In his prime, Dale Steyn was one of the most feared bowlers in the world in Test cricket. He had the ability to swing the ball at pace and the best batsmen didn’t have the answer to that. Some of his best bowling performances will be remembered for decades – a career-best 7-51 v India at Nagpur in 2010, a sensational 6-8 v Pakistan at Johannesburg in 2013 that shot them out for 49 and a match-winning 10-wicket haul against Australia in the Boxing Day Test of 2008 at Melbourne. Performances like these were regular with Steyn in Test cricket and he was instrumental in several memorable South African victories.
Hence, with Steyn bidding adieu to Test cricket, a glorious career has come to an end. The last Test Steyn played was against Sri Lanka at Port Elizabeth in February 2019. He went wicket-less in an embarrassing loss for South Africa and it was unfortunate that this will be remembered as Steyn’s last appearance in the long format. But that won’t take away his greatness and the fact that he was one of the finest fast bowlers to have played the game.
In his retirement statement, Steyn has admitted and stressed that Test cricket is the toughest and best format of the game. With the commitment Steyn showed in the format, that is apparent. He always gave it his all and breathed fire and passion into his Test bowling like very few in history have. Dale Steyn would have inspired a generation of cricket fans into Test bowling and will continue to do even after his retirement.
For now, one hopes that we get to witness Steyn in action in limited overs cricket at least. He doesn’t have much time left and would soon be bidding his farewell from international cricket altogether. It is Test match cricket, however, which would be poorer without the services of this champion fast bowler.