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Dale Steyn

The best of Dale Steyn: His top Test spells

Bracket challenge

To celebrate South Africa quick Dale Steyn's 37th birthday, we shortlisted eight of his best Test spells and asked fans to vote for their favourite.

Up until his retirement from Test cricket in August 2019, for nearly 15 years Steyn was arguably one of South Africa's and the world's greatest Test bowlers since his debut in 2004 and frequently dominated the top spot in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Bowling Rankings. He is the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in Tests, having surpassed Shaun Pollock in December 2018; Steyn has 439 scalps to his name in 93 matches, at a remarkable average of 22.95 with 26 five-wicket hauls.

Of his many great spells, we picked out eight truly special ones. Later today, one of those innings will be crowned the best based on fans' votes. Head over to our social media channels to vote.

Steyn got his fourth career 10-wicket haul in the Nagpur Test in 2010
Steyn got his fourth career 10-wicket haul in the Nagpur Test in 2010

7/51 v India, Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur, 6-9 February 2010

Steyn claimed his career-best figures in Nagpur with a devastating spell of reverse-swing bowling, defying alien conditions as South Africa completed victory by an innings and six runs in the series opener. India, previously unbeaten under MS Dhoni’s leadership, were skittled for 233 on a surface good enough for South Africa to rack up 558/6 in the first innings. His scalps included Murali Vijay and Sachin Tendulkar, and the Proteas claimed a lead big enough to enforce the follow on. Dhoni was unbeaten no longer.

Steyn's 11-wicket match haul against Pakistan was the cheapest since Richard Hadlee's in 1976
Steyn's 11-wicket match haul against Pakistan was the cheapest since Richard Hadlee's in 1976

6/8 v Pakistan, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, 1-4 February 2013

When Pakistan bowled out South Africa for 253 in the first innings, they might have felt in the contest, capable of nearing parity or perhaps even eeking out a lead. They certainly wouldn’t have imagined being back in the field 30 overs later, having been skittled for 49, their lowest-ever Test score. Had Graeme Smith felt so inclined, he could have even enforced the follow-on.

If Pakistan were at sixes and sevens, Steyn was at sixes and eights, claiming mind-boggling figures of 8.1-6-8-6. Six Pakistan players were caught behind, two at first slip, one more in the cordon, and one pinned lbw, defenceless in the face of a pace-bowling masterclass.

Steyn helped the Proteas claim their first series win in Australia in 2008
Steyn helped the Proteas claim their first series win in Australia in 2008

5/87, 5/67, 76 v Australia, Melbourne Cricket Ground, 26-30 December 2008

One of the greatest all-round performances in Test history came from a man who would only make one more half-century in his entire Test career. First up, Steyn’s five-for limited Australia to 394 in the first innings, but it still seemed plenty when South Africa slipped to 251/8 in reply.

Enter Steyn, who made 76 in a 180-run stand with JP Duminy – whose 166 was one of the all-time great Test innings – to give the Proteas an unlikely 65-run lead. Steyn was soon back in the action once more, dismissing four of Australia’s top six on his way to 10 wickets in the match. South Africa chased 183 comfortably, and, having completed the second-highest chase in Test history in the first game of the series, a maiden series win in Australia was secured.

India were bowled out for 76 in the Ahmedabad Test
India were bowled out for 76 in the Ahmedabad Test

5/23 v India, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, 3-7 April 2008

India had racked up 627 in a drawn first Test, and the surface looked full of runs again – as proved when AB de Villiers notched a double hundred and South Africa neared 500 in the second innings. But the first belonged to Steyn, who claimed Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid in an inspired opening spell before returning to lop off the tail, the hosts all out for 76. It remains India’s second-lowest Test total at home.

The 2011 Test series against India was one of Steyn's very best!
The 2011 Test series against India was one of Steyn's very best!

5/75 v India, Newlands, Cape Town, 2-6 January 2011

The third Test in Cape Town rounded out what was one of Steyn's best Test series. He was the highest wicket-taker, having picked up a whopping 21 wickets in three matches, six more than the next best.

With Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar boosting India's first-innings total, Steyn's spell helped put the brakes on the visitors' scoring. He accounted for Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, MS Dhoni and finished with Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma, ensuring that India took only a two-run lead in the first innings. He followed up the five-for with the prized scalp of Gambhir in the second innings.

Steyn put up a classic display of reverse swing in Port Elizabeth in 2014
Steyn put up a classic display of reverse swing in Port Elizabeth in 2014

4/55 v Australia, St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, 20-23 February 2014

In yet another sensational display of reverse swing, Steyn was a key player in setting up South Africa's 231-run victory and helping the hosts level the series 1-1. With Australia requiring nearly 500 runs in the fourth innings, the visitors were never in with a chance and Steyn made sure they didn't come even close to the huge target. He rattled the middle-order, accounting for all-important Australian wickets. Barring the two openers, none of the batsmen surpassed double figures and the visitors were bowled out for a mere 216 as the Test ended in just four days.

Steyn claimed his third-best Test bowling figures in Centurion against West Indies
Steyn claimed his third-best Test bowling figures in Centurion against West Indies

6/34 v West Indies, SuperSport Park, Centurion, 17-20 December 2014

South Africa's humongous total after being asked to bat had already put them in a strong position and the fast bowlers helped tighten the screws. The visitors were asked to follow-on and Steyn was largely responsible in annihilating them in their second innings. They were 87/2 at one stage but Steyn claimed his third-best Test bowling figures as Windies folded for 131, handing the Proteas a victory by an innings and 220 runs.

Steyn was the leading wicket-taker in the 2012 series in England
Steyn was the leading wicket-taker in the 2012 series in England

5/56 v England, The Oval, London, 19-23 July 2012

The Proteas staked their claim on the overseas tour with an innings and 12-run win in the first Test at The Oval. Having put up yet another dominant performance with the bat and gaining a 252-run lead, the visitors had the upper-hand. With Steyn leading the fearsome bowling attack, England's formidable batting unit didn't stand a chance. He accounted for the likes of Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann as the hosts were bowled out for 240. Steyn eventually ended up as the leading wicket-taker in the series, with 15 wickets to his name.

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