Dale Steyn displayed his class and became South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in Tests during the game against Pakistan on day 1 in Centurion. The right-arm pacer, long considered one of the best in the business, took the wicket of Fakhar Zaman as he overtook Shaun Pollock’s record of 421 wickets. Steyn achieved the record in just his third over when Zaman edged a full ball to Dean Elgar at slips and Centurion gave him a rousing reception. The 35-year-old achieved the feat in just his 89th Test match and it was fitting that he achieved the feat in Supersport Park, a ground where he is the leading wicket-taker with 57 wickets in 10 Tests and has produced some match-winning spells in the past.
Speaking after Steyn broke the record to the host broadcasters, Pollock said he had no doubts about Steyn’s class. “The fact that he is the best Test fast bowler that South Africa has produced doesn't require my endorsement, as his stats and record tell you that,” Pollock remarked. However, Steyn has had to work hard for the record in the last couple of years. Constant injury issues threatened to derail his career and the questions grew louder with each injury. When Steyn went past 400 wickets in just 80 Tests during the series against Bangladesh in 2014, it seemed that it would only be a matter of time before he would break Pollock’s record.
Following the end of the Bangladesh series, the nightmare began for Steyn. A groin injury that he sustained in the India series in 2015 curtailed his participation and he was ruled out for a couple of months. He returned for the series against England and put in a magnificent performance in the Boxing Day Test in Durban when he picked up 4/70 but in the second innings, he suffered a shoulder injury which prolonged his time on the sidelines.
Steyn spent a considerable amount of time outside the game and returned for the series against New Zealand where he displayed his mettle and took 5/33 in Centurion to give South Africa a series win. Steyn travelled to Australia in 2016 where he got the wicket of David Warner for 97 in Perth. However, he once again suffered an injury and this one was more serious. A fractured shoulder led to surgery and he was sidelined for 14 months. It seemed that the record would be out of Steyn’s reach. When he returned for the India series in 2018 in Cape Town, he got two wickets but in the second innings, an injured heel resulted in him missing the series and also the four Tests against Australia.
With so many injuries cropping up, Steyn played very few games and he once again made a comeback in the series against Sri Lanka. However, on pitches which assisted spin, Steyn took only two wickets in the entire series and South Africa were whitewashed 2-0. However, with the pacer finally breaking the record, all the frustrations in the last couple of years have been eliminated.