South African fast bowler Dale Steyn on Tuesday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. Taking to Twitter, the 38-year-old brought an end to a 17-year career, which saw him play in 93 Tests, 125 ODIs and 47 T20Is for the Proteas.
He made his debut in December 2004 and, in just more than a dozen years before he suffered his first shoulder injury – bowling against England at Kingsmead in December 2015 – he played in 82 of South Africa’s 105 Tests. That’s a shade under 80%. From then until he retired from the format in August 2019, he would be involved in only 11 of the 35 Tests South Africa played – fewer than a third.
No-one has taken more Test wickets for South Africa, but let others analyse his statistics and place him in the pantheon. That matters less than the widely felt belief that he didn’t represent South Africa as much as he was the standard bearer for ordinary humans who dreamed of doing extraordinary things. Steyn’s humanity was with him at Eden Park in 2015, as Grant Elliott screamed the ball that would become the final ball of the World Cup semi-final into Auckland’s night sky for six, ending the game. Steyn became agitated after learning of his team’s loss, and Elliott had to take him from the field of play. The scene was right out of a real-life scenario in which your friend is assisting you in standing up after a few too many drinks, and it was hilarious.
Steyn is known for his sharp analysis and his ability to explain the technicalities of bowling, especially to young players, and has played mentoring roles at tournaments like the PSL. Though he has hinted that he might consider a role in coaching after “upskilling” himself, for now, he is committed to pursuing other interests. Asked if he they include sports like surfing or skateboarding, Steyn laughed, saying that he would first concentrate on his role as a “dog dad” – Steyn is the proud owner of four dogs, Sadie, a Labrador, and Chobe, Mowgli, and Reece, all Border Collies.