Steyn joins Protea’s cricket greats, edging SA closer to win

2008-12-29 00:00

Melbourne — Dale Steyn turned in one of the finest all-round performances in the history of South African cricket to take the Proteas Test team to the brink of an historic series win over Australia on their home turf.

At the close of yesterday’s fourth day the Proteas needed just 153 runs to take a 2-0 lead in the three-match series with all 10 second innings wickets in hand. The only concern overnight was the forecast of rain for the final day.

And Steyn’s contribution had been enormous. Following his 76 runs and his 180 run partnership (with JP Duminy) for the ninth wicket, he then claimed his second five-wicket haul of the match for an overall return of 10 for 154.

In the process he joined countryman Hugh Tayfield and England’s Ian Botham as the fourth fastest to 150 Test wickets in only his 29th match. The only players to have done it quicker are the legendary Syd Barnes of England, Waqar Younis of Pakistan and Clarrie Grimmett of Australia.

Those immediately behind him on the list include Dennis Lillee and Shane Warne of Australia, Andy Roberts and Malcolm Marshall of the West Indies and Richard Hadlee of New Zealand.

Allan Donald took 33 matches, Shaun Pollock 36 and and Makhaya Ntini 42 to reach 150 Test wickets.

Steyn could not make up his mind whether he was more pleased with his batting or bowling effort.

“My job in this side is to take wickets and I must say that batting for that length of time (two minutes short of four hours) was a new experience.

“I picked up a blister on a finger and I woke up with a very sore back this morning.”

Steyn paid particular tribute to physiotherapist Shane Jabaar for managing him through a quad injury and keeping him on the field throughout the Test match.

He also paid tribute to the field placings that Graeme Smith has given him over the past two years.

“He has come up with great game plans. … [T]oday was a good example when he placed a short cover for Matthew Hayden and we … picked up his wicket two balls later.”

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