Monday, October 8, 2018

Lord of the Swing: The return of the King

The best ability, they say is availability. This intuitively feels true. Largely because it clearly is true. What good does being good, or even historically great do, when you aren't even on the park? Or, to steal another adage, what god is a Ferrari when it's in the garage? In Dale Steyn, arguably the greatest matchwinner in South African cricketing history, the national team has had a Ferrari Enzo, the flagship in the garage. But that is all gone now. Having once gone 48 straight Tests without concern, the former iron man began to show some weakness. A hamstring injury  in the first morning of the  deciding test vs Australia not only all but sealed South Africa's fate at Newlands, but it also started a string of injuries and niggles which have seen a man who seemed destined to cross the 500 Test scalp threshold, stuck. Well, as stuck as any man on 421 Test wickets at nearly five wickets a game and the second greatest strike rate in cricket history can be. To Cricket South Africa's relief no doubt, the man who has the best Strike rate in Test cricket history just happens to be Steyn's heir apparent, and has held the fort as well as anyone could realistically expect. If anything, he's basically reinforced the fort and added a moat and then added a crocodile to that moat and then fed the crocodiles Captain America's super soldier serum. Kagiso Rabada is really good is what I am trying to say. That, though is a story for another day. This day is about one Dale Steyn. And ladies and gentlemen, he is back. He is available. Better than that, after a slightly mediocre return to the Test set-up, he seems to be back to something approaching his best. The veins are pumping. The eyes seem to change colours and the speed gun is reading some terrifying numbers. In one over vs Zimbabwe on Sunday, he averaged 148kph. That is 92 miles per hour in imperial talk. That's not just fast, that;s historically fast .He seems to have maintained his ability to swing it away from the right hander, while he developed the ability to seem it both way against the left-hander later in his career, and like most learned skills, it seems to have survived any sign of physical decline.

So if we are to accept that the Steyn Gun is back, and we are to believe that he is back to his best abilities; the real question is whether CSA are willing to go all in on the pace trio of Lungi Ngidi, Dale Steyn, and Kagiso Rabada? Could a bowling attack win what is by consensus expected to be a batting world cup?

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