OPINION: Injuries robbed us of Dale Steyn’s fairytale career ending

FILE - Dale Steyn in action during a Test match against India at Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

FILE - Dale Steyn in action during a Test match against India at Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published Jun 27, 2023


Johannesburg — Injuries late in Dale Steyn’s career meant that the world could not witness one of the all-time great’s last dance on cricket’s biggest stage.

As cricket fans around the world celebrate Dale Steyn’s 40th birthday on Tuesday, we are reminded of how his career ended.

Throughout his career, Steyn was almost injury free, so much that when he fractured his shoulder during the first Test match against Australia in Perth in 2016, there wasn’t too much fuss as a relatively quick return to play was expected from an athlete of Steyn’s fitness levels.

It happened on the second day of the Test, just when South Africa had been bowled out for under 250 on day one. It was a big game for South Africa and for Steyn who most certainly pushed to maintain his flawless Test record Down Under.

A six-month rehab period followed and a slow return to play program took place. Not long after came a heal injury during the India series in 2018.

Steyn described the injury as the ‘worst’ injury he ever had in his career. At 35-years of age, time was running out for the fast bowler and he had missed two of the biggest Test series’ for a South African Test cricketer.

But Steyn being Steyn, he pushed for full fitness with an eye on the 2019 50-over World Cup.

A little over six months before the 2019 World Cup, Steyn put on a performance that raised hopes for his availability for the World Cup.

It was during SA’s white ball tour of Australia late 2018. During the first One Day International, Steyn took 2/18 in seven overs and saw South Africa bowl Australia out for 152 runs.

In the third ODI and series decider on that tour, Steyn grabbed 3/45 in ten overs and bowled in the high 140’s (KPH).

He was looking at his destructive best and he sure let the Aussie batters know he was on a hunt having been ruled out of a Test series two years prior.

When the Proteas World Cup squad was announced, there was a huge relief that Steyn was included but there was a concern, written in fine print, that he would ‘probably’ not play the first few World Cup games.

A fast bowler of Steyn’s quality, experience and hunger to win a World Cup, was always going to make a World Cup squad despite there being a chance of his body not pulling through.

South Africa played against hosts England in what was a World Cup opener and when skipper Faf du Plessis did not call Steyn’s name at the toss, it was no surprise, but hope was still intact that the stalwart would make a return at some stage in the tournament.

Little did we know that the six hit by Grant Elliot at Eden Park during the 2015 World Cup semi-final off Steyn’s bowling was going to be his last delivery at a World Cup.

The emotion of that semi-final still carries weight to this day.

When Steyn didn’t recover in time from another injury during the 2019 World Cup, we felt robbed, and most importantly, we felt Steyn was robbed of his last dance and who knows, it could have been that that was the World Cup SA were going to win.


IOL Sport

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