The 7-51 picked up by Dale Steyn in the Nagpur Test in 2010 finds a place among the best spells in Test history, but the man himself has been self-effacing in putting his feat down to an element of luck.
Steyn’s haul was incredible, not only because of the late swing he generated, but the fact that he managed it on a typical sub-continent pitch in Nagpur that had little in it for the fast bowlers. It strengthened the argument for Steyn to be considered as one of the legitimate greats of his generation.
However, he has now played down his own skill in getting those career-best innings figures, claiming there was some luck involved . “I got lucky in Nagpur, Nas, to be honest,” Steyn told Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, in the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast.
“They had started to score runs, India, and Graeme [Smith, the captain] went up to the umpires, and said, ‘listen, this ball is past it, the seam is split’ or something like that. And they said they’ll change it.
“And the first [changed] ball, I ran in and it just reversed – [it was] flying in, I can’t remember who the batter was, and he fell over and chipped it straight to mid-wicket. We didn’t think it was going to reverse. And every other batter after that, I don’t think they thought it was going to reverse.
“So they left or they were bowled, and then I got into the tail-enders and had the stumps a couple of times. But literally, if it wasn’t for that ball change, they could still have been batting right now.”
Steyn is South Africa’s most successful Test bowler, with 439 wickets. He retired from Test cricket in 2019, saying he wanted to extend his limited-overs career as long as possible.