Dale Steyn I Photo: AFP
Johannesburg: Resembling a work of art when in full flight with his wicked swing and toe-crushing yorkers, all-time pace great Dale Steyn on Tuesday announced retirement from cricket with an impeccable record and a legacy to boot.
Cricket will be poorer without the rhythmic run-up and an action that was all about grace, for there was no better sight in cricket than watching Steyn striding in and attacking the batsmen.
The 38-year-old South African made the announcement on Twitter, ending a 17-year career, which saw him play in 93 Tests, 125 ODIs and 47 T20Is and pick 439, 196 and 64 wickets respectively for the Proteas.
"Today I officially retire from the game I love the most. Bitter sweet but grateful. Thank you to everyone, from family to teammates, journalists to fans, its been an incredible journey together," he wrote.
"'And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe. Maybe this year will be better than the last I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass'," Steyn wrote in his retirement letter, quoting a song from American rock band Counting Crows to convey his emotions.
"It's been 20 years of training, matches, travel, wins, losses, strapped feat, jet lag, joy, and brotherhood. There are too many memories to tell. To many faces to thank. So I left it to the experts to sum up, my favourite band, the Counting Crows," he added.
Steyn, who retired from Test cricket in 2019 with an eye on limited-overs formats, last played an international in February 2020 – a T20I against Australia – but has had constant run-ins with injuries over the last few years, especially after a career-threatening shoulder breakdown during South Africa's tour of Australia in November 2016.
The pacer was initially included in South Africa's squad for the 2019 World Cup but had to pull out without playing a match due to a shoulder problem.
He still had an eye on the ICC T20 World Cup last year, before that tournament was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He played in T20 franchise leagues thereafter, including in the Pakistan Super League in March this year. He also pulled out of the IPL, but insisted he wasn't retiring.
However, on Tuesday, he brought his career to a close, quoting lines from 'A Long December'.
After starting his representative cricket career in 2003 in a first-class match for Northerns, Steyn got his South Africa cap the following year, in a Test against England in Port Elizabeth.
Steyn made his ODI debut for Africa XI against Asia XI in 2005 at Centurion. His best figures -- 6 for 39 -- came in Port Elizabeth against Pakistan in 2013.
In 2007, Steyn made his T20I debut against New Zealand and in his second game - against West Indies - he recorded career-best figures of 3-0-9-4.
His last ODI was against Sri Lanka in 2019 while the T20I against Australia in February last year turned out to be his last international fixture.
Steyn's career was a story of battle with injuries.
In December 2015, he injured his shoulder in the Durban Test against England and was ruled out of the rest of the rubber.
Having gone under the knife to fix his coracoid (a shoulder bone), he again injured it during the Perth Test against Australia in 2016.
Steyn returned for the Test series against India in 2018, only to sustain a "freakish" heel injury in Cape Town.