Modern cricket coverage has a particular shot that shows Dale Steyn to best effect. Not the side-on, of his rhythmical run, but the close-up from behind the arm. Here you get to see his wrist at work, the way it cocks then launches the ball from out of the camera, kissing the pitch even before the batsman starts to move. It is the wrist that gives him that extra yard of pace, the upright seam, the late movement. Few bowlers can ever have had better ones.
Steyn is rarely in the form he was against Pakistan. He is no McGrath of metronomic accuracy and stifling play. Many times in England he seemed to get wickets from his pace alone, though many good balls went unrewarded. Here though, he was unplayable, fast, controlled, the ball moving late, the batsmen unable to respond.
It was a good pitch for it. Junaid Khan bowled particularly well on the first morning without reward - he may have been a touch short, but credit too to Smith who has a knack for staying in. South Africa threw away that morning advantage late on the first day, being bowled out for 253 to Mohammad Hafeez (4/16). But an hour into day two it didn't matter, and the pitch mellowed, or the batsmen adjusted sufficiently for the game to follow its inevitable course from South Africa's first innings advantage. Steyn showed touches of brilliance in the second innings too, ending the match with 11/60 off 36.5. South Africa's early declaration meant they only beat the expected margin by a little. It was some performance though, and the ratings gap from them to the rest just expands a little more.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.
Idle Summers 10th February, 2013 20:18:02 [#]