South Africa seamer Dale Steyn has called time on his Test career with immediate effect, it was announced on Monday. He will continue to be available for selection for the Proteas in the limited overs formats — ODIs and T20Is, Cricket South Africa added.
“Today I walk away from a format of the game I love so much. In my opinion Test cricket is the best version of this game. It tests you mentally, physically, emotionally. 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," said the seamer in a statement on CSA's website.
“I’d like to thank everyone in cricket, no one specific, because everyone has been a part of my journey. And I look forward to continuing to play for the Proteas in the shorter formats. Thank you.”
Steyn finishes his career with 93 matches played and 439 wickets at an average of 22.95, 26 fifers and five 10 wicket hauls. He recently became the highest wicket-taker in South Africa's history where he surpassed legendary Shaun Pollock. Next active bowler in the highest wicket taking list for South Africa is Kagiso Rabada on 176 wickets.
CSA Chief Executive Thabang Moroe led the tributes for South Africa's legendary seamer. “Dale is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats of cricket. From the time he made his Test debut against England in 2004 and dismissed their captain, Michael Vaughan, with a superb delivery, he has been one of the standout fast bowlers in world cricket. He has led the South African attack brilliantly and has set the standard for our future generations to follow."
“More than that he has been a wonderful mentor to our next generation of speedsters."
“We were saddened to hear of his decision, but it is one that management has to accept, and we thank him for his significant contribution to the sport and to the nation and wish him everything of the very best for the future.”
It was reported that Steyn will call time on his ODI career after the Cricket World Cup in England but he is going to persist for now. Hampered by injuries over the past few years, Steyn in July claimed: "I will be trying to get to that World Cup (in England). But after the World Cup I don't see myself playing white ball cricket for South Africa. By the time the next World Cup comes, I will be 40."
Intriguingly, Steyn had wished to continue in the longer format. "When it comes to Test cricket, I would like to play as long as possible. I have finally come out of a cloud of injuries. I broke my shoulder and in my first game on return (against India at Cape Town), I landed in a foothole. It was rotten luck."
"It's quite difficult to come back from a broken shoulder, especially with your bowling arm. I feel that's (injury) gone and now I am fit. I played two Test matches without an injury (against Sri Lanka recently), bowled at good pace and never went off the field because of niggles. It's a big plus."
That shoulder injury proved to be his undoing in the ODI main event. Steyn picked up a second shoulder injury during the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore and could not recover in time to play a role in South Africa's, what proved to be a disappointing, campaign.