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Steyn and Morkel: The dynamic duo of the rainbow nation

( 1986 views )

Dale_Steyn_Cricket_South_AfricaSouth Africa are by far the best Test team in world cricket today. As a team, they play cricket at a level higher than their opponents. As individuals they make playing cricket look ridiculously easy. They have three to four players who would make it on anyone's list of XI. One of those is Dale Steyn. This fast bowler's ability to swing the ball late has made him the number one ranked bowler in Test cricket. The wickets he takes are worth watching over and over again; such is the aesthetic beauty of his dismissals. But in a team game, one man alone ne'er winneth a match.

To compliment the tough examination that is Steyn, South Africa have found a sporadic surprise test in Morne Morkel. He still lacks a bit of control which would indicate he thinks a little more about his front foot than landing the ball in the right area at the point of delivery. However, when in good rhythm Morkel is as unplayable as Steyn. Together they form South Africa's answer to the question, 'Is fast bowlers running in and swinging the ball the prettiest sight in cricket?'

Experts often talk about fast bowlers hunting in pairs. If one builds pressure, perhaps batsmen will go after the other providing him a wicket. History throws up quite a few pairs that have tormented batsmen. Apart from Waqar and Wasim, the two in the pair had Morne_Morkel_South_Africa_Cricketdifferent styles. In most cases, one banged the ball in while the other kept it up and swung it.

In this pair, Morkel is the one who bangs the ball in, while Steyn's relationship with the ball is best described by Dean Martin. Steyn makes the ball sway with him. This combination is so effective because while Morkel pushes the batsmen back, Steyn pitches the ball up. To top it off, both of them have been quite injury free, which can be attributed to their seamless actions. The body is in perfect shape while delivering the ball. The left leg kicks far out while landing and the left arm comes up high and is pulled down quickly yet not too early. Hence, the two of them have taken 45% of the wickets South Africa have taken ever since Morne Morkel's debut. Walsh and Ambrose took 47% of the wickets taken by West Indies since Ambrose's debut till his retirement.

Here's a look at the stats.

 

 

Comparing stats with other Bowlers

 
Since Morkel's debut (2004-13) During Ambrose's period (1988-00)
Team / Players Wickets Innings Team / Players Wickets Innings
Total wickets taken by SA 1040 - Total wickets taken by WI 1744 -
M Morkel 173 90 C Ambrose 405 179
D Steyn 291 102 C Walsh 412 193
V Philander 78 27 I Bishop 161 76
J Kallis 86 98 M Marshall 136 57
P Harris 103 63 K Benjamin 92 48
M Ntini 110 59 C Hooper 91 107
Others 199 - Others 447 -
Styen + Morkel 464 (45%) - Ambrose + Walsh 817 (47%) -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Performance

 
  Span Mat Won Lost Tied Draw W/L
Since Styen's debut 2004-13 83 41 22 0 20 1.86
Since Morkel's debut 2006-13 60 34 12 0 14 2.83

 

 

 

Vernon Philander has added an extra dimension to this South African pace attack. The never tiring, nagging, line and length bowler who nips it around was missing since Pollock departed. Of course just line and length doesn't bring wickets. Calling McGrath a line and length bowler is an insult to his skill as a bowler. He knew how to set batsmen up. He got the ball to do what he wanted to do. He knew how to present the seam, run the fingers down the ball and nip it both ways. He often used his wrists and fingers to generate extra bounce. Philander seems to be in a similar mould.

When nothing is happening for these three, Kallis brings his wit to the crease. Setting up batsmen is his forte. Often after bowling three-four dot balls, he throws in a wide full swinging one which induces a false shot. His strength is he knows how a batsman thinks.

It has been said quite a few times now, but this South African team is number one by right and will remain thus for some time to come.

Stats by: Karna Yajnik



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