The fact that cricket is a batsmen obsessed game is evident at all instances. There is one clear greatest batsman of all time Don Bradman simply coz of the sheer average of his run scoring 99.94 runs per innings !! However if you can term him the greatest batsman on the basis that he had the highest batting average, you can over look that he played in an era where there were few tough opponents. Not that I question his greatness, but its a point to consider when you are statistically looking at records.
If the greatest batsman of all time is not judged on the fact of the number of runs he scored but on the basis of his Average, similarly a bowler should be rated on the basis of his Average shouldn’t he ? Or his Strike Rate ??
For me the Strike Rate of the bowler is perhaps the most significant criteria, in Test Cricket where batsman have plethora of time on their hands and they try to wear the bowlers down before taking him apart, a guy who picks you frequent wickets is priceless. Batsmen have very low strike rates in Test Cricket and hence more than the bowling average it is the Strike Rate of the bowler that should be of greater importance.
Here are a couple of lists to ponder upon !! Below are lists of the Top 20 Best Bowling Averages and Best Bowling Strike Rates of bowlers with a minimum qualification criteria of 200 wickets :
Dale Steyn picks up a wicket every 39.6 deliveries !!!
Looking at the bowling averages the margin of different between the top is quite minimal, from 20 to 25 the top twenty jostle with each other.
Looking at the strike rates Dale Steyn is a clear winner, beating Waqar by 4 deliveries and the Great Malcolm Marshal by a clear 7 deliveries. His stories are still building and he is still only in the middle of his career and to be spoken of along with the all time greats is a huge achievement. While logic probably says that Steyn’s strike rate would get higher as he plays more however, there are no such signs when you watch him bowl, it seems there is a lot of gas left in the tank !!
Now whenever we would discuss Bradman we say that he played in the era of uncovered pitches and we gape at that, then consider this Dale Steyn plays in an era where we complain of flat pitches !! Admittedly in South Africa we probably have the best conditions suited for his type of bowling, still he does tour and he has annihilated batting line-ups in the subcontinent too !!!
In India, usually a paceman’s grave yard, with flat tracks, Steyn’s strike rate stands at 34.9 which is even better than his career strike rate !!! Perhaps the Best Batting line up of his era in their own backyard have given him the biggest testimony of his greatness ! He still is 28 and will probably play a few more matches in England and Australia and will probably be able to correct his figures there. But going at the rate that he is, we are perhaps witnessing the greatest fast bowler of all times !!!
As usual, the bowler doesn’t get enough limelight or enough focus. While we all rave about Sachin’s 100th century, this guy slowly is chipping away at the wickets.
Steyn has an easy action on his body, which should mean he should remain relatively injury free and if he remains fit, another 3-4 years could possibly see him at his best. He bowls at fairly brisk speeds, has a clean action. The fact that he can come and bowl his fastest spell in the last session of the day is a testimony of his fitness.
Most fast bowlers reach the peak of their prowess around the 30’s and if that is true than Oh Boy !!
Batsmen the world over are in for a hard time against this fiesty competitor !!!!!
Could he keep up with the good work ??
Can he end up as the Greatest Fast Bowler we ever saw ??