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Dale Steyn becomes South Africa’s leading wicket-taker

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Dale Steyn took a long-awaited 422nd Test wicket to edge ahead of Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in the format.

Handed the new ball in the Boxing Day Test at SuperSport Park, Centurion – his home ground where he leads the wickets charts – against Pakistan on Wednesday, December 26, the 35-year-old struck in his fourth over of the day.

In the seventh over of the match, Fakhar Zaman edged one that was outside off to Dean Elgar at slip, and the holiday crowd stood up to applaud as ‘Simply the best’ played loudly on the public address system.

It has taken the fast-bowler 89 matches to get to the landmark, much quicker than Pollock’s 108. But considering that he reached 400 wickets back in July 2015, this has taken a while to come.

Since that game against Bangladesh, where he, in his 80th Test, became joint fastest with Richard Hadlee to the 400 mark, he has been plagued by injuries and long lay-offs from the game.

Speaking ahead of the day, the ‘Phalaborwa Express’ had said, “I haven’t saved myself just to take one more wicket than Polly (Pollock). There is a bigger goal at the end of the day … I will be highly honoured, but I will get back to my mark and try to take the next one.” And that’s just what he did.

Tributes came in from his peers and other greats of the game. “Dale Steyn, we salute you! What a man, what a player,” AB de Villiers tweeted.

Pollock himself released a statement saying, “The fact that he is the best Test fast bowler that SA has produced, doesn’t require my endorsement as his stats and record tell you that. He’s fully deserving of holding the record for most Test wickets and I hope that he goes on to take many more and continues winning games for the Proteas.”

Describing him as a “wonderful athlete” and “spearhead”, he added, “I have enjoyed so many attributes of Dale’s bowling through his international career.

“The ability to swing the ball at high-speed upfront, reverse swing the ball with devastating effect, bowl with great control and within himself as well as being able to crank it up with high-speed hostile bowling on very flat surfaces at times have all been his hallmarks.”

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