Dale Steyn deserves better than to be remembered, in World Cup terms, for bowling the delivery that Grant Elliott smashed down the ground for six to put New Zealand in the 2015 final.
He took 11 wickets in eight games at that tournament and 12 in six at the 2011 version, and for more than 10 years he has been the epitome of the snarling South African fast bowler — and one who has at least as much bite as he does bark.
But while Steyn’s legacy as a Test player is undisputed — he surpassed Shaun Pollock’s South Africa record of 421 wickets against Pakistan in Centurion in December — a World Cup-sized hole gapes in his ODI career.
Now 35, he is in the last-chance saloon to put that right. And that won’t happen easily. Having for much of his career dodged the injury bullets that have stunted other fast bowlers, Steyn has fallen prey to two broken shoulders and a heel problem since 2015. Those calamities have kept him out of all but 30 of the last 129 games South Africa played across the formats going into the 2019 World Cup. Considering he featured in 232 of South Africa’s 416 since he made his debut in a Test against England at St George’s Park in December 2004, that is a staggering reversal of fortune.
The alarm bells rang again on April 25, when Steyn was released by Royal Challengers Bangalore with an inflamed bowling shoulder. However, he remained part of South Africa’s World Cup squad.
At six feet tall and slightly built, Steyn is not the stereotypical fast bowler compared to his peers. But he more than makes up for those apparent deficiencies with pace, aggression and a peerless away swinger.
And if you see him out on the street somewhere past midnight, he’s probably in search of a burger and a milkshake.
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