Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Can we please stop picking Dale Steyn


Time was once when Dale Steyn was arguably the best pace bowler in T20. From his debut in 2007 until 2014, Steyn averaged 15.98 at an economy rate of 6.45. In T20 terms, that is a supernatural level of productivity. It showed in his IPL purchases as well, as Steyn was regularly auctioned off for prices in excess of a million dollars. From the first IPL tournament until 2014, Steyn had never gone at more than 8 runs an over. Indeed from 2008-2014, he went at an economy rate of 6.6. Almost unheard of level of efficiency from a pace bowler at the time, and even now. 

That was then, however. The biggest mistake a team can make is to be married to the past. Someone once said, "The past is a wonderful place, but you can't live there". We live in the present, and at present, continuing to persist with Steyn would be a mistake. Since the clock struck midnight on the 31st of December 2014, Steyn has provided a steady diet of average to below average T20 cricket. Even now, as we speak, he can't get a game consistently for the Royal Challengers Bangalore; traditionally the worst bowling line-up in all IPLs. From 2015 until his last game for the Proteas a few months ago, Steyn has taken nine wickets at an average of 33 and an economy rate of 8.96. If we are to take the fast bowlers in a World T20 tournament to be Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Anrich Nortje, and then two all-rounder slots for Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn has the worst economy rate. He's also less likely to take a wicket than any of the men in front of him. Defenders of the continued Dale Steyn selection party would no doubt point to the fact that he has played very little T20 cricket internationally. This is true, but there are two issues with this line of thinking. Firstly, if you try include his IPL numbers, the reading does not get any better. From 2015-2020, Steyn has conceded runs at 9.43 runs to the over in the IPL. This is, to quote the cool kids, very bad. Secondly, even his IPL numbers don't really flesh out his games played, because he has only played 11 games in the IPL the last five editions. Which leads us to issue number two. Availability. They say ability is the best kind of ability, and Steyn has not been available for the last two world cricket tournaments, as he was plagued with injury. Clearly, he has also not really been available for the IPL, which is an annual tournament. Can we really afford to pick a player who hasn't really been healthy in five years, and when he has been, has not performed particularly well? 

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