It’s a big day that will be remembered for a long time for South African pacer Dale Steyn. He became the all-time leading Test wicket-taker when he picked Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman as his 422nd victim on the first day of the first Test at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.
Zaman’s dismissal brought to an end more than three years of frustration during which Stey missed no fewer than 27 Test matches because of injury.
Dale Steyn was mobbed by his teammates after Zaman (12) edged the ball to Dean Elgar at third slip, reducing Pakistan to 17 for two after winning the toss and batting first.
Shaun Pollock, the previous holder of the record, was quick to praise his successor, describing him during a television commentary as “an absolutely brilliant performer, an absolute champion and a true leader of the attack”.
Slightly built, with a lithe, athletic action, Steyn at his best was capable of bowling at 150kmh, with late away swing accounting for many of the world’s leading batsmen. When conditions did not suit express pace he developed an impressive array of cutters and became a master of reverse swing with the old ball.
Steyn took his 400th Test wicket in his 80th Test in July 2015 — the second-fastest in the world to reach the milestone — and it seemed Pollock’s record was about to fall.
But four serious injuries delayed what had seemed imminently inevitable.
After a slow recovery, Steyn spent time with English county Hampshire and returned to Test cricket in an unproductive series in Sri Lanka during which he took only two wickets in two Tests to be stuck level with Pollock.
Steyn is now 11th on his own on the all-time world list, needing to match New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee on 431 to claim a place in the top ten.
Steyn has had success in all Test-playing countries in taking five wickets in an innings on 26 occasions, with five ten-wicket match hauls.