On this day: Dale Steyn becomes South Africa’s highest wicket-taker in Tests


On this day in 2018, speedster Dale Steyn became the most successful South African bowler in history as he broke the record for most Test wickets in the first Test against Pakistan. Steyn got Fakhar Zaman caught behind to claim his 422nd Test wicket, surpassing former Proteas captain Shaun Pollock who retired in 2008.

In what was the most beautiful coincidence, Pollock was in the commentary box when Steyn got the wicket and raised a thumb to the pacer.

“He goes on top of the pile, long live the king,” he said on-air as Steyn was congratulated by his teammates with Kagiso Rabada lifting the legend on his shoulders.

The then-35-year-old was playing his 89th Test and looked set to take the record when he played against Sri Lanka earlier in the year. But he could only bag a couple of wickets in the series to tie with Pollock. Earlier that year, he also got injured after the first Test against India as South Africa went on to win 2-1. Unfortunately. Steyn could not be on the field to celebrate South Africa’s first home series win against Australia after their readmission to Test cricket.

The Steyn Journey

Steyn had passed the 400-wicket mark three-and-a-half years before he crossed the milestone. But he only played eight Tests ahead of the record-breaking Test on Boxing Day. As for the Test, Duanne Olivier’s 6-wicket haul in the first innings had wrapped up Pakistan for 181, 71 of which came from Babar Azam’s bat. In response, some contributions from the top-order before a half-century from Temba Bavuma (53) and a 45 from Quinton de Kock led South Africa to 223. Four wickets each to Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi were sufficient to highlight the assistance the track still had for pacers.

A five-wicket haul from Olivier and a three-fer for Kagiso Rabada rattled Pakistan again after Imam-ul-Haq (65 from 120) and Shan Masood (57 from 96) showed some resistance. A sad story followed their knocks as none of the other batsmen could manage to contribute, eventually surrendering in front of the Proteas’ pace attack. Needing 149 for victory, half-centuries from Dean Elgar (50 from 123) and Hashim Amla (63 from 148) led the home team to a win by 6 wickets.