CENTURION: South African pace ace Dale Steyn enters the first Test against Pakistan at SuperSport Park on the cusp of becoming his country’s most successful Test bowler.
Steyn needs one wicket to go past Shaun Pollock’s record of 421 Test scalps, a record that has been standing since 2008, when the first of three Tests begins from Wednesday.
Steyn’s statistics across his 14-year career are astounding; he has played 88 matches compared to the 108 by Pollock, and boasts a remarkable strike-rate of 42- the third-best of all bowlers in the world.
He admits he has bigger goals than the looming milestone, and is rather focused on putting in winning performances for the team at his home ground at the SuperSport Park, where he boasts an excellent record of 56 wickets in nine matches played.
“I have a lot more wickets in me than just one more,” Steyn said on Monday. “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 do think it will be a beautiful thing to happen, if it happens.
“It has taken a long time and these records are great things to achieve. I will be highly honoured but I will get back to my mark and try to take the next one.
“It’s just nice to have a red ball in my hand again,” he added. “Sri Lanka was tough conditions for the fast bowlers, but by the looks of things — the way the nets have been playing out in the middle — there is some spice. I am looking forward to getting out there and playing five competitive days of cricket.”
Injury has marred his progress over the last two years, but the 35-year-old gears up to lead the attack feeling fitter and more fired-up than ever.
The injuries to Lungi Ngidi and Vernon Philander ahead of the opening match of the three-Test series gives Steyn and his fellow fast bowling team-mate, Kagiso Rabada, added responsibility to lead from the front, but does not rule out the impact of the recalled in-form Duanne Olivier.
“The onus will be on your bigger players like KG [Rabada] and myself to lead the attack,” he explained. “Duanne (Olivier) has been bowling beautifully, he was the highest wicket-taker in the Mzansi Super League. In the four-day game he played the other days he got a few wickets and even got Faf out. If he slips under the radar and he comes up trumps with wickets and wins us the game I will not be complaining.”
Theunis de Bruyn, meanwhile, has been passed fit for selection while Temba Bavuma will undergo a late fitness test on Tuesday morning.