What lessons can we learn from Sachin Tendulkar’s life?
Today is a day of great reflection because today we celebrate the 50th birthday of the great Sachin Tendulkar.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, SRT, or the ‘God of Cricket’—regardless of how you referred to him, for most cricket fans between 1989 and 2013—the love of cricket coincided with the love of Sachin. He represented hope, excellence, and discipline for billions of people around the world.
Let’s reflect back on those 24 precious years and see what we can learn from Sachin Tendulkar’s life. Or at least here is what Sachin Tendulkar taught me.
7 Lessons We Can All Learn from Sachin Tendulkar’s Life
1. We Must Accept Finite Disappointment, but Never Lose Infinite Hope
Quote By: Martin Luther King Jr.
After Kapil Dev & his men lifted the 1983 Cricket World Cup trophy, playing cricket for India and lifting the World Cup became a dream for every schoolboy. Sachin was no different. Fast forward three years into his career, he was selected for the 1992 ODI World Cup.
First time, no luck. Then, 1996 semi-final happened. Sachin Tendulkar stumped. Eden Gardens stunned. India collapse—A common sight in the nineties. It was followed by 1999 hardships & disappointment, 2003 (Final – so close, yet so far), and last, but certainly not the least, the 2007 Cricket World Cup. India crashed out in the group stage. It seemed to be curtains on Sachin Tendulkar’s lifelong dream.
Life Lesson 1: Disappointments are a part and parcel of life. The important thing is to never lose sight of the hope, dream, or end goal you have deep down. If you persevere and keep at it, who knows, maybe one day that dream may come true.
Quote By: Late American basketball legend Kobe Bryant (and quote from his English teacher, Mr. Fisk) while accepting the ESPY ICON AWARD
This speech is so beautiful, it is worth writing it in full here.
Just like Kobe Bryant and other legendary sports stars around the world, Tendulkar had to work hard for it.
Sachin Tendulkar was definitely a gifted a cricketer, but that alone did not make him great. Sure, he had natural timing and great hand-eye coordination, but he still had to put in the hard yards. Hours and hours in the nets, days and days in the Bombay Maidans under the sun, honing his technique slowly but surely. One day at a time, he got better. And he just never stopped.
Life Lesson 2: What differentiates excellence from just adequate performance is the work ethic. To achieve greatness in any field, the end result is directly proportional to the amount of work you put in.
3. The Price of Anything is the Amount of Life You Exchange For It
Quote by: Henry David Thoreau, American philosopher and writer
From an outsider’s point of view, Sachin Tendulkar was a superstar and public figure. But this definitely came at a cost. Staying away from family for the better portion of two decades, always being under media pressure, recovering from career threatening injuries, and maintaining international level fitness would not have been easy.
Life Lesson 3: Sacrifice.Whether that is time, family, plans with friends, delicious food, sacrifice in some extent is necessary to progress to the next level.
4. Sometimes It is the People No One Can Imagine of who do the Things No One Can Imagine
Quote By: Alan Turing, Father of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
Who would have thought that a 5-foot four schoolboy from Mumbai become the first ODI double centurion, go on to score hundred 100s, and become the idol that would inspire a nation of a billion?And even after he debuted for India, not many could have imagined the scale at which Tendulkar was able to conquer the cricketing world. There have been many 16- & 17-year-old debutants in cricket, but none like Sachin.
Life Lesson 4: If you can put your mind to it and imagine the impossible, you can achieve the impossible. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you that cannot do something.
5. Only Those Who Will Risk Going Too Far Can Possibly Find Out How Far One Can Go
Quote By: T.S. Eliot, American Poet
Tendulkar did not stop until he reached the height of individual excellence. Sunil Gavaskar, the original ‘Little Master’ had set the bar with 10,000 Test runs and 34 Test centuries. How far would Sachin go? 35? 50? Once he got past, he did not stop. 34,347 runs across formats, scoring hundred 100s and 164 fifties, he finally hung up his boots. But by the time he was done, he had expanded the horizons of what batting excellence looks like.
Life Lesson 5: Beware of complacency. Take some risks. How far can you push the barriers in your profession?
Sachin Tendulkar had the weight of a nation’s expectations but never showed it. He always carried himself with grace and did not let the public know about the stress and mental pressure he must have been going through. That, my friends, is courage.
Life Lesson 6:It is more important how you carry yourself rather than what you achieve.
7. Without Continual Growth and Progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
Quote By: Benjamin Franklin, American writer, thinker, politician, scientist, diplomat, printer, publisher, everything.
With such a long career, ups and downs are bound to occur.Teams figured out some of his weaknesses, injuries occurred, and so did prolonged loss of form. What mattered was that Sachin continued to reinvent himself and bring out a new version to overcome certain obstacles. Prime examples are the 241* in Sydney when he famously gave up the cover drive & the second wind in 2010 (at the age of 37, he dominated the South African bowling attack, scored double centuries, and looked fluent as ever).
Life Lesson 7: Keep the curiosity alive and continue to learn. You can only make substantial progress if you struggle initially, experiment with possible solutions, and ultimately overcome the challenges. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Sacrifice, patience, longevity, work ethic, reinvention, curiosity, grace. The list goes on. We can learn so much from Sachin Tendulkar, a cool head on broad shoulders that taught a country how to excel, win, and most importantly, dream.
What life lesson has Sachin instilled in you? What has he meant to you?
Other Articles on Cricket, Philosophy, and Life Lessons
If you liked this article, be sure to check these articles below on Cricket Life Lessons:
By Nitesh Mathur, Broken Cricket Dreams, 04/01/2022
Actor Shreyas Talpade, from Iqbal fame, is back to portray this inspirational story of a man who realized his dream of playing cricket on the national stage at the age of 41.
Can Pravin Tambe’s unlikely journey capture the imagination of the public like other sports movies? Today we review this latest cricket movie released on Disney+Hotstar—Details, Summary, Verdict, and most importantly, Life Lessons We All Can Learn from Pravin Tambe. There is also a section of most popular Pravin Tambe videos, his playing career, and stats at the very end.
Kolkata Knight Riders just posted an emotional video on social media regarding a special screening of Kaun Pravin Tambe?, celebrating Pravin Tambe who is on KKR’s support staff in IPL 2022 (video of KKR’s special screening linked below).
Kaun Pravin Tambe Detail & Information
Title Name: Kaun Pravin Tambe? (Who is Pravin Tambe?)
Hotstar Summary:Relentless effort can make an underdog rise to the top, and cricketer Pravin Tambe’s extraordinary journey proves why age is just a number.
Language: Hindi (English subtitles available, also dubbed versions available in Telegu & Tamil)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Kaun Pravin Tambe Summary and Review
Kaun Pravin Tambe? begins with a clip of a Rahul Dravid, who is portraying Pravin Tambe as the embodiment of passion (full speech below). The movie then tries to answer the question for the audience, who is this Pravin Tambe that Dravid is talking about? Cricket fans have heard about with his exploits with the Rajasthan Royals between 2013 and 2015, but how did he start his career? Why did he have to wait for 20 years?
The film begins in the early 2010s, when Tambe is juggling his life as a construction supervisor, father, husband, and cricketer. After brief introduction of the Shreyas Talpade, the movie rewinds to Tambe’s childhood and develops chronologically. We see that at the age of 12, Tambe finds his life purpose—to play Ranji cricket for Mumbai. The essence of the plot is to fill the gap between ages 12 to 41.
There are several mini-stories within the larger movie. Tambe begins his career as an all-rounder and specifically, a medium-pace allrounder. How does he then turn into this leg-spinner? (Don’t worry, will not spoil that for you here). Another plotline is the various jobs Tambe takes upon for the sake of financial stability, while still trying to give time to cricket. This is my favorite part of the movie.
Finally, the portrayal of the Mumbai grassroots cricket, Shivaji Park maidaans, and gully cricket is cherry on top of the cake. The actual cricket has the perfect screen time—not too much (like 83’s highlights reels), not too little, just right.
What makes this a neat watch is Shreyas Talpade’s bowling action. I loved his bowling action in Iqbal and since Tambe started as a medium pacer, Talpade was a perfect fit. His acting is brilliant as usual, but the minor characters (older brother, childhood friend, wife Vaishali, Abey Kuruvilla, and Arif Zakaria as Jamil) are the heart of the film. Special mention to Ashish Vidyarthi, who does an excellent job portraying Vidyadhar Paradkar sir (influential coach for Zaheer Khan and other great Indian cricketers).
Finally, a note on Parambrata Chatterjee, who is a wonderful actor (you might know him as the police officer in Kahaani & Aranyak). However, his minor negative character as a journalist did not suit him or the script well.
Verdict: To Watch or Not to Watch?
At this moment, there is loads of cricket going on—2022 Women’s World Cup, IPL 2022, Australia Vs Pakistan ODIs, Bangladesh Vs South Africa Tests, Netherlands Vs New Zealand limited overs series, and the 2022 County Championship will begin in a week as well.
On top of this, I am sure you are busy with work, family, or school.
But if you can make time for two hours in this busy world, I hope you can set everything aside and give Kaun Pravin Tambe? a sincere watch. Good, light-hearted movie that will rejuvenate your belief in cricket, specifically grassroot & gully cricket.
My review for Kaun Pravin Tambe? is 4.5/5. Great watch. The only thing that took away from the film for me was the minor conflict with the journalist, which seemed a bit forced.
Before we move on to “Life Lessons we can learn from Pravin Tambe”, check out BCD’s social media pages and consider subscribing to our newsletter. It would really help support this website.
5 Life Lessons We All Can Learn from Pravin Tambe
Pravin Tambe symbolizes Broken Cricket Dreams. His journey has broken dreams, but his story is also full of inspiration, passion, hard work, modesty, and determination.
Tambe is one of the great stories of the IPL. Got his big break before playing a Ranji Trophy match. And guess what? After all his toil, results were evident – hat-trick vs KKR, highest wicket taker for Rajasthan Royals in 2014, and the Golden Wicket taker for RR in 2012 Champions League.
And he played till he was 49 across IPL, CPL, Abu Dhabi T10 leagues. I am sure he still plays a few gully cricket games here and there. Dedication to the max. Here are some of the other life lessons from Pravin Tambe we can apply to our lives.
1. Age Is Just a Number
After almost 30 years of toil, Tambe finally got selected for the Rajasthan Royals in 2013. A few months later, he would get his beloved Ranji Trophy cap.
In this day and age of the internet and focus on fitness, anything is possible. Tom Brady, Pravin Tambe, Brad Hogg, and Chris Gayle can still play professional sports at 42. With resources online, you can obtain a new skill, learn new things, change careers, or start a business. At any point in your life, age is no barrier.
2. Balancing Dreams with Practicality of Life
As Tambe entered his twenties, he assumed more responsibilities. He got married, had two kids, and had to pay bills. Usually, people give up dreams during this time for financial security.
Pravin Tambe did not. He worked multiple jobs instead.
Life is all about moderation and balance. And to survive, money is needed. If you can develop multiple streams of income, while still being within reach of your dream goal, that is the ideal zone.
3. Be Open-Minded
Pravin Tambe reluctantly switched from medium pace bowling to leg spin. And boy, did it pay dividends.
There is a fine line between persistence and inflexibility. Quitting should always be your last option, but if things are not working in your favor, be open to change. Being open minded in the micro can have large positive effects on the macro.
4. Passion Makes Perfect
Dravid’s speech illuminates on Pravin Tambe’s work ethic. Although he did not play much the first year, he attended every optional practice session, every gym session, and was always discussing how to improve his game with other players in the squad.
After his first man of the match award in the IPL, “he was weeping.” He cherished every moment of this journey. Although he has now assumed coaching roles, he still plays for his company (Kanga League, Time Shield) and still bowls 15-20 overs a day in three-day-games.
We usually say ‘Practice Makes Perfect.’ That is true, but what is more is that ‘Passion Makes Perfect.’ If you combine your love or passion for a certain activity and put in the practice and the hard yards, then you will be happy with all your effortsand gradually get closer to your dream.
5. All You Need Is One Good Over. Never Give Up. Dreams Really Do Come True
Themain theme of Kaun Pravin Tambe can be summed up by one quote in the movie.
Pravin Tambe was in the 40 Probable’s List for a number of seasons, even as early as 2000.
But he had to wait. And Wait. Almost gave up. And had doubts cast upon from friends and society, but he kept on working relentlessly and kept on dreaming a dream till he got his big break that changed his life.
In Tambe’s own words, “Just never give up on your dreams. Really dreams do come true.”
Try, Try, and Try Again Until You Succeed.You may take rest but never quit. The light at the end of the tunnel may be bleak, but there is light, nevertheless.
Pravin Tambe Videos and Interviews
Here are some of my favorite Pravin Tambe videos. In his interview with Aakash Chopra, Tambe reveals that his IPL cap was not his biggest moment. Getting the Ranji cap for Mumbai from legend Wasim Jaffer was his most memorable moment.
Here below is one of his best innings of his career. So much spin! Beautiful.
Here is Tambe’s hat-trick and 5-wicket hall in a T10 match that featured wickets of Chris Gayle, Eoin Morgan, and Kieron Pollard (Bowled!), Upul Tharanga – as a 47-year old. Wow!
Sounds okay but could be better. Let us try again.
Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami—The Eternal Legends? Scratch that. How about
Goswami & Raj: Stalwarts that Let the Flame Burning for India’s Women Cricket.
I have to be brutally honest here. I had a tough time finishing this article.
It took me weeks. I mean how could I summarize such long careers, awe-aspiring legacies, and inspirational stories with a mere couple of phrases? In fact, it took me an entire day just to research just the sheer number of records and awards these two possess (all of them listed below).
103 days away from the 2022 Women’s ODI Cricket World Cup Final, let us look back at the glorious careers of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami—Where Did It all begin? Statistics and legacies, ups and downs, the final hurrah, and of course what can we learn from the lives of India’s best women batter and fastest bowler?
It has been 8216 days and 7291 days since Mithali Raj’s and Jhulan Goswami’s debut respectively. That is a really long time, let alone for a sporting career. Let us trace back to where it all began.
Jhulan Goswami did not actually start playing cricket till the relatively late age of 15. It was the 1997 ODI World Cup Final between Australia and New Zealand that sowed the seeds of cricket deep into her roots.
She was a ball picker in that World Cup final at the Eden Gardens when Australia’s World Cup winning celebrations ignited her passion to take up the sport.
It was now her dream to lift the World Cup trophy for India.
Mithali Raj’s talent was picked early, and she was in the national radar by the time she was 14. However, actually devoting her career to cricket was not such an easy decision.
Early Decisions, Discipline, and the Passion to Excel
In their interviews with Gaurav Kapur in Breakfast With Champions and Mithali Raj’s chat with Ravichandran Ashwin in DRS With Ash, we gain a bit of insight in their lives—Raj’s early interest & training in the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam, her fascination with books, and what obstacles both Goswami & Raj had to overcome during their journey.
Although both of their parents were supportive of their decisions to play cricket, there was backlash from extended family and the rest of society, especially when women’s cricket in India was in its infancy. Raj states that her toughest decision was to choose World Cup selection games over her 12th grade board exams. In any case, they both started training in cricket academies, disciplined their routines, and woke up around 4 AM to get ready for practice.
In Raj’s case, the discipline stemmed from an army family background. For Jhulan, originally from the small town of Chakdaha, it was the two hours travel by train for practice.
It was an evident in their early days of international cricket that these two were going to make an indelible impact in Indian cricket.
Opening the batting, Raj scored 114* against Ireland in her debut ODI on 26 June, 1999 just at the age of 16. Goswami would follow suit on January 5th, 2002, opening the bowling against England and returning with figures of 7-0-15-2. Her high arm release, bowling speed, and the beautiful smooth action would be a breath to behold in the years to come.
Records and Statistics of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami
In these tributes, I usually like to add a statistics section to paint the whole picture of the cricketer, but this one is a bit unique. Since Raj & Goswami have played so much cricket & have been consistently excellent, they practically have all the individual records to their name.
Slowly scroll down, sit back, and just reflect how dominant these two legends have been for two decades.
Joint Records Held by Raj & Goswami
2nd – Joint Longest Test Careers (debut 14 January, 2002)
157 – Highest Partnership for the 7th Wicket in Test Cricket (Aug 14-17, 2002)
Mithali Raj Stats
Mithali Raj Career Statistics
Mithali Raj Records
Leading scorer in women’s cricket across formats (10454+)
Only Indian captain to lead the country in two ODI World Cup finals
3rd Youngest Test Captain (At 22)
Youngest Player to score 200+ (19)
2nd Highest Individual Score (214)
Most Runs (7391* and counting)
Longest ODI Career (Debut: 26 Jun 1999)
Most Career Matches (220)
Most Consecutive Matches (109 – Between April 2004-February 2013)
Jhulan Goswami’s best days came between 2006 & 2008. Her all-round form (3-46 & 2-62, 69 at #3, 5-33 & 5-45) helped India win a Test series in England on her way to become the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year.
World Cup Dream
Although Raj & Goswami have accomplished almost everything in the sport, there is one elusive achievement they have yet to realize—the World Cup dream.
Mithali Raj has played in 5 ODI World Cups, dating back to the 2000 Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, when India made the semi-finals. Next time in 2005, both Jhulan & captain made the team. It would be India’s first run to the World Cup final, losing to Australia. Raj was India’s highest scorer with 199 runs (5th overall), and Jhulan was at #3 in the wickets (13 wickets).
Then followed two World Cups of relative disappointments.
Rock Bottom of 2009 & 2013
In 2009, India did not make it past the Super Six stage, but Raj made it into the Team of the tournament (247 runs, 2 – 50s, best of 75*). Goswami, who did not have a great time with the ball, was India’s captain during the tournament.
The 2013 Cricket World Cup, however, was arguably the lowest moment as India failed to get out of the qualifying stage. This time captaincy was back with Mithali Raj while Jhulan had a decent tournament with 9 wickets in just 4 games. Raj did score a 103* against Pakistan for the 7th Place Playoffs.
Post-2017, media coverage, funding, and women’s cricket grew in leaps and bounds. Mithali Raj herself reflects that she had more interviews after 2017 then in the first 18 years of her career.
India’s successful march to the finals was another great storyline of the tournament. By this time, a good core had formed around Raj & Goswami with Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, and Punam Raut all contributing with match -winning performances.
Raj followed up her consistent scores of 71, 45, 53, 69 with a 109-run knock against New Zealand. She ended up as the second highest run getter of the tournament with 409 runs (1 run behind Tammy Beaumont). Goswami had a decent run herself, taking 10 wickets overall with the best of 3/23 and providing India with miserly opening sells.
India has not had the rub of the green in the T20 World Cups in T20 World Cups either. After qualifying for the semi-finals in 2009 & 2010, they crashed out in the group stages in 2012.
They did not get far in 2014 & 2016 either except that Mithali Raj was the 3rd highest run getter with 208 runs in 2014.
In 2018, India had a bright run with 4 wins in 4 matches in the group stage before crashing out in the semi-finals again. Mithali had retired by the time 2020 T20 World Cup came around and Jhulan did not play in a T20 World Cup since 2016.
Jhulan Goswami was India’s captain briefly from 2008 to 2011, captaining India in 25 ODIs (W: 12, L: 13).
Mithali Raj, on the other hand, has had a couple of captaincy stints. First was around the 2005 ODI Women’s World Cup, the second stint during the 2013 World Cup, and the final one around the 2017 Women’s World Cup. In all, she captained India in 8 Tests (W:3, D: 4, L: 1) and 143 ODIs (W: 85, L: 55), the most by any Indian captain.
The Captaincy-Controversy Complex
These days India’s captaincy is synonymous with controversy. The same applies here as well.
Although Ramesh Powar is back as India’s head coach now and the relationship has reconciled, in 2018, a public battle of words between Raj & coach Ramesh Power took place. There was discussion on Raj’s strike rate and batting position during the 2018 T20 World Cup and she was eventually dropped from the 2018 semifinals, which India lost.
Eventually, Mithali Raj retired from the T20Is in 2019 and Harmanpreet Kaur replaced Mithali as captain.
Women’s IPL Without Goswami & Raj Already a Failure for BCCI
However, it has already failed before it began. In order to cultivate a strong fan base, Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami would have been wonderful ambassadors as players. I am sure they will still be invovled in some way or the other, but without creating a team around them, the BCCI has already lost a golden opportunity.
They have given everything for Indian cricket. They deserve one final farewell, preferably in front of their home crowd.
What Can We Learn from Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami?
Just like the 1997 World Cup moment inspired her, Jhulan herself has inspired numerous other cricketers like Pakistan’s Kainat Imtiaz (who was a ball picker when India toured Pakistan in 2005).
The legacies of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami are far beyond the numbers. They have not only changed cricket but have also changed the perception of fans towards women’s cricket.
When they debuted, Indian women’s cricket was not at a great place. BCCI had not taken over women’s cricket yet, lots of the early tours required self-sponsoring, practices were on turf wickets, and the facilities/physios were not as prominent back then.
The fact that India has reached so many semi-finals & finals and a trophy seems to be right around the corner is credit to their work over the years. Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami have not only contributed by their own skills but have also mentored and brought others along the way.
Longevity & consistency, coming back from disappointments, breaking barriers, mentoring others, staying focused on your goals, and always, always daring to dream—This is what Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami teach me.
I hope their magnificent careers and lives teaches you some valuable life lessons as well.
Quotes on Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami
Here is some advice in their own words.
“Young boys and young girls saying – We saw your match, we want to play cricket, where can we go, and enroll ourselves? So that’s a success for me, because getting the girls to watch cricket is a big thing.’
– Mithali Raj on Breakfast with Champions
“”Be committed and persistent in what [you] do. Channel your energy and be consistent”
– Mithali Raj advice to young girls in DRS With Ash
“But winning the World Cup was a dream. You chase that dream. You wake up every day and think about lifting that trophy…But that blot will remain unless you win the World Cup. Irrespective of me being in the team or not.”
-Jhulan Goswami on the World Cup dream
“I live with this dream. I live with this passion and want to do something for women’s cricket.”
-Jhulan Goswami on Women’s Cricket
“You have been a trendsetter…an inspiration…and a role model.”
– R Ashwin on Mithali Raj
Final Hurrah for the Iconic Duo?
Raj & Goswami are still fit and raring to go as we saw against Australia series this year. Goswami redeemed herself from a high pressure last over no-ball with a match winning shot in the very next game. They still have it in them.
On March 5th, 2022, India begins its journey to the 2022 Women’s ODI World Cup against Pakistan. Who knows, these might be the final 7 games that we might see of these legends.
We all hope that they can go two steps forward and achieve their World Cup dream. But even if they do not, it has been two delightful careers sandwiched in one that have mesmerized the fans for two decades.
This is Hansie Cronje’s story & his fall from grace during the infamous match-fixing scandal. What was going in Cronje’s mind? How did his teammates and family feel? What about the South African public? And most importantly, what was the investigation like?
The episode begins by the dramatic introduction of Marlon Aronstam, the bookie himself, who admits that
“I should never have been able to get close to him.”
The addition of bookmaker, journalists, as well as Allan Donald & Herschelle Gibbs, Fallen Idol goes to the next level. With a series of interviews, we get to know who Hansie Cronje really was and the circumstances of that time.
The documentary traces it step back and walks us through the brief history of South African cricket circa 1992. Violence, apartheid, Nelson Mandela, and the reinstatement of South African cricket. Where did Cronje fit in this complex society?
Cronje’s character is painted as this prominent unifying figure of post-apartheid South Africa, whose stature is only next to the great Nelson Mandela.
Next, the series dives into the details of his rising captaincy & career. We swiftly get into the backdrop of India’s illegal betting environment along with Delhi police’s investigation into the matter of match-fixing.
Hansie Cronje’s untainted heroic figure comes crashing down as allegations surface. The film ends with his unfortunate death in a plane crash, but not before it all comes together at the end with the live jury video and Cronje’s confession.
Without a doubt, this is a must watch documentary episode on one of cricket’s most polarizing figures.
Think of this as extended YouTube highlights meshed into a professionally made documentary. There are highlight packages for the casual cricket fan to enjoy – SA vs Australia (Cronje’s captaincy debut), England vs SA (The infamous double forfeited Test feat Nasser Hussain), and SA’s tour of India.
What makes this a beautiful heartfelt documentary is the first hand experience of those closest to Cronje. How did they feel during the investigation and when he confessed? The fans and administrators were crushed for sure, but what is so revealing in the documentary is how his trusted friends and family felt.
I even had a couple of teardrops at the end. Keep a tissue nearby while watching this. Emotions Galore.
How will History Judge Hansie Cronje and Life Lessons We All Can Learn From Him
We can now reflect on South Africa’s readmission to cricket. 30 years on, wounds have not healed. They may have even become exacerbated. With Quinton de Kock & the knee affair in the T20 World Cup, the quota system, and racist allegations within the team surfacing in recent hearings, the fabric of South African cricket society is unraveling. The documentary hints that even though Cronje was a symbol of unity, he did pressure Herschelle Gibbs & Henry Williams, players of mixed and colored origin.
When the match-fixing saga happened, I was too little to remember anything. Later when I grew up, I always had a negative image of Cronje.
Objectively, Cronje damaged international cricket’s credibility and hurt fans all around the world.
However, what this documentary revealed to me is that there are several layers to consider before making a naive judgment. Hansie Cronje (and for that matter, Mohammad Azharuddin) were influential cultural icons of their time, beyond cricket.
Hansie Cronje was human. Humans have flaws. He confessed that he always gave it his all for the country, but money got the better of him. And that was his Achilles’ heel.
His brother mentioned towards the end that although South Africans have been through a lot, they are a forgiving society especially in context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Politicians with criminal background have been forgiven and are now parliamentary members.
Forgiveness is an important life lesson in all of this. At the end of the day, we can only come together and live peacefully, both internally and externally, if we forgive.
Will history forgive Hansie Cronje? Will you?
I will leave you all with this quote.
Who Was Hansie Cronje?
Hansie Cronje was without doubt one of the greatest captains in cricket, especially for South Africa. You probably remember the semi-final drama that ended South Africa’s WC dreams under his captaincy, but he was much more than that. Here are some stats and figures.
Born: 25 September, 1969
Died: 1 January, 2002 (32 years old)
Hansie Cronje Stats
Tests: 68 matches, 3714 runs, best of 135, 36.41 average, 100s/50s – 6/23, 43 wickets, Best Inn – 3/14, Best Match – 5/34
Captained: 53 Tests, Won 27, Lost 11
ODIs: 188 matches, 5565 runs, best of 112, 38.64 average, 100s/50s – 2/39, 114 wickets, Best – 5/32
Captained: 138 ODIs, 99 Wins, 1 Tie
Most consecutive matches as captain of an ODI Team (130 ODIs – and you guessed it right, the 2nd on this list is none other than Mohammad Azharuddin)
Test series win in India
Test series victory against all countries not named Australia
Imagine it is the 1940s. You are working at Bell Labs, one of the world’s premier research laboratories, an abode of inventions. Computers are at the beginning of their evolution, and programming still occurs on punched cards.
You work day and night in the week, and guess what? One error in the code and the program stops. Hard work down the drain. On the bright side, the machine detects and warns you that there is an error.
So as a brilliant scientist who has been a part of the Manhattan Project, what do you do? You work nights & weekends and develop an algorithm so that the machine can itself correct the errors, without the need for human intervention.
The year is 1950. You have published this paper and revolutionized computer science & information theory.
Now fast forward to the 2004. You are playing for the Indian national cricket team, one of the world’s premier cricketing nations, an abode of talent. Wicketkeeper batters are at the beginning of their evolution, and finishing limited over games is still at its infancy.
You work day and night on tours, and guess what? One poor series, and the selectors drop you. Hard work down the drain. On the bright side, selectors warn you that you have to play a different role in order to come back.
So as a budding young cricketer who has been a part of the 2004 U-19 World Cup, what do you do? You practice day in and day out, improve your technical faults, and comeback as a successful opener in swinging conditions to help India win a series in England in 2007.
A few months go by. Inconsistency creeps in. Dropped.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
The year is 2021. You have claimed your fame to glory in that Nidahas Trophy final and revolutionized the role of a finisher.
Your name is Karthik, Dinesh Karthik.
Dinesh Karthik’s story is not in the career averages or amount of runs scored. Neither is it in number of comebacks. It is in the way the comebacks were constructed. Over the years, inconsistency has decreased, reassurance has increased, and in his own words, he has managed to stay ‘relevant.’
In simple terms, he has perfected the art of self-correction.
Dinesh Karthik’s Initialization
Algorithms have improved vastly since the Hamming code days. Yet, there are three main components of a self-correcting algorithm: Initialization, self-calibration, and error correction.
On the back of good domestic form, Dinesh Karthik was selected for the 2004 U-19 World Cup. This team included future Indian nationals in Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, and RP Singh. Following a decent domestic and India A season, he found himself in the national reckoning alongside Parthiv Patel as India were trying to find a permanent replacement to makeshift keeper in Rahul Dravid.
He would not bat in an ODI for another two years, but was picked for Tests against Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. After having a top score of only 46 in his first six Tests, he finally made a mark scoring 93 in the second innings against Pakistan. However, a loss of form and Dhoni’s memorable 148 at #3 in that Pakistan ODI series meant Karthik was briefly dropped from the Test side and traveled only as a reserve keeper for the next year.
One of the interesting traits of Karthik’s unusual career has been that when he is dropped in Tests, he finds a place in ODIs and vice versa. Later in his career, he was recalled in ODI & Test cricket based on his T20 form.
Case and point is 2006. Karthik enjoyed a good run in the limited overs although he was out of the Test side.
Although he would not get a game in the ODI World Cup, he played as a pure batter in the inaugural T20 World Cup with Dhoni behind the stumps. Low scores followed in the T20 World Cup, but he provided India with a bit of magic in the semi-final—a one handed diving catch to dismiss Graeme Smith.
Nasser Hussain on commentary summed up Dinesh Karthik’s entire career accurately in one sentence
“They say Dinesh Karthik is the two extremes—he drops dollies and he takes some spectacular catches.”
Error Correction Part I: Karthik’s Golden Year in Test Cricket
The year 2007 was DK’s best time in Test cricket.
By this time, it was clear that he could not make the XI based on his keeping skills alone. The Fab 4’s presence meant that the middle order was crowded. However, Sehwag & Gambhir had been dropped, which meant there was a slight opening.
Enter Dinesh Karthik 2.0—the opener. With Wasim Jaffer, he formed a brief yet formidable partnership.
In the third Test at Cape Town, the Jaffer-Karthik experiment paid dividend with a 153-opening partnership in the first innings. Karthik scored 63 as an opener and followed it up with 38* at #7.
In the tour of Bangladesh, he was given a permanent opening spot and returned with scores of 56, 22, and 129, his only Test century. Then, came India’s tour of England. Despite not scoring a hundred, scores of 60, 77, & 91 meantthat he ended up as India’s highest Test scorer—263 runs, 3 fifties, 518 balls faced to go along Jaffer’s 409 balls, which helped India successfully dent the new ball.
Pushed back to the middle order after just 2 more Tests, he could only muster 157 runs in 11 innings with a best of 52 against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand. He would get another opportunity in Tests in 2010 before being dropped for another eight years.
On his come back against Afghanistan’s inaugural Test in 2018, he himself said in a press conference that in his earlier stint in Test cricket,
“I guess I wasn’t good enough before… I was not consistent enough.”
When he was out of favor in Tests in 2008, he did receive several opportunities in ODIs, scoring a few middling scores and featuring in India’s 2009 Champions Trophy squad. His best ODI innings of 79 runs came in 2010 with a 196-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar during his historic double century.
14 innings later, with only 1 50+ score & 2 ducks, he was dropped—this time for three years.
Error Correction Part II: Dinesh Karthik, Journey To The Center Again
More competition, more errors, longer time to fix. Enter Dinesh Karthik 3.0—the middle order batter.
It took a 3-year hiatus before Karthik stormed back. In IPL 2013 as the #3 batter for Mumbai Indians, he amassed 510 runs, only behind Rohit Sharma for MI. The innings where his highest score that season of 86 was possibly his best IPL innings (so far).
This performance earned him a ticket on the 2013 Champions Trophy and his best ‘List A’ moment came in the warm-up games, when he scored two back to back centuries, scoring 106* & 146* batting at #6. This tournament is fondly remembered for the beginning of the Shikhar Dhawan-Rohit Sharma opening partnership, which meant Karthik did not get much of a chance with 51* against West Indies his best knock.
A few months later, India failed to qualify for the Asia Cup finals and Karthik’s 21* vs Afghanistan would be his final innings for yet another 3 years.
Let us take a slight detour like his career took around 2014.
What is your favorite part about watching Dinesh Karthik? For me, it has always been his unconventional demeanor, starting from his batting routine. The moment he arrives at the crease, it is pure theater. Walking in with urgency, rolling the gloves around, dancing from side to side, taking guard, moving his helmet, meditating on the side. Excitement and apprehension at the same time.
As a keeper he is always chirping and speaking to the bowler, most famously with his partnership in KKR with Varun Chakravarthy or with R Ashwin in Team India.
But surely, so much energy must definitely be a burden. A volcano ready to erupt if the energy is not channeled properly.
A Nervous Bundle of Energy
In order to come back to the Indian national side, DK needed to recalibrate.
In a Breakfast With Champions interview with Gaurav Kapur, he described the time with Abhishek Nayar as a ‘mental bootcamp.’ 40-lap swimming, 45-minute uphill runs, sweeping the house, visualizing match scenarios, and extreme fitness training pushed DK out of his comfort zone. He reflected that
“When you push yourself out of your comfort zone when nobody is watching you and there is no glory attached to it and you just do it quietly because somewhere in life you want to achieve something, overall in time it does help you.”
This experience added an extra dimension to DK’s wide array of skills. He was always a good player of spin, but once he was in a good head space post-Nayar, he literally reinvented his batting—the sweeps, laps, reverse sweeps, and swivel across the crease came with increased frequency.
Errors Correction III – Consistency in Domestic Cricket
While his 2013 comeback was largely on the backs of the IPL, the 2017 comeback was due to the weight of runs in domestic trophy. He was among the runs in Ranji Trophy and has been consistent in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for the past five years.
At the peak of his batting powers, DK was hitting the ball as nicely as anybody at that time. Sanjay Manjrekar stated that at that time, Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya were the only two Indian batters who could time the ball from ball one.
By this time, the pattern was set. Another Champions Trophy, yet another come back. Although he did not make the XI, in the next few matches after the trophy he scored 50*, 48, 37, 64* in consecutive games across ODIs & T20Is. It was a signal that he had added consistency to his arsenal.
Accuracy Improvement – Dinesh Karthik, The Finisher
After grinding it out in domestic cricket and becoming a much more calm and mature individual, it was time for Dinesh Karthik 4.0 to enter—Dinesh Karthik, the finisher.
From after the 2017 Champions to before the 2019 Cricket World Cup, DK slowly grew into the finisher role, remaining not-out 20 times out of the 35 ODIs or T20Is he played in.
After 14 years of sharpening his skills, beast mode was finally unlocked in the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka.
Short & sweet contributions in every game: 13* (6), 2* (2), 39* (25), 2* (2), and 29* (8). He could not be dismissed throughout the series.
The final was a night to remember. With Mustafizur’s wicket maiden in the 18th and a struggling Vijay Shankar at the other end, hope was all but lost.
The Night of the Final
Then comes in Dinesh Karthik. Rubel Hossain steams in and attempts a yorker. DK sits back and hits it over a long on for six. There is still life left in the game. Then came a heave for four and another one for six! Colombo crowd is going wild.
Couple of balls later, Karthik moves around crease and scoops it over fine leg—22 run over.
Final over, DK off strike, India need 12.
Wide, dot, 1,1, 4 (Shankar), Out. Five runs, one ball, one man. Over pitched delivery outside the off stump, DK times it with a full follow through. FLAT SIX. INDIA WIN! Captain Rohit Sharma said that DK was a bit upset being moved to #7, but he managed to channel the anger into good effect.
Given that India have not won a major ICC trophy since 2013, this memorable win stands at a high place for Indian fans. With 120 million and 211 millionviews for the 19th and 20th over respectively, this is easily the most watched cricket video (and possibly any sports video). Relive those moments below.
The Comeback Ends & The 2019 Cricket World Cup
He continued his Nidahas Trophy form in IPL 2018 with the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise, scoring 498 runs at 49.80 with a strike rate of 147.77.
However selection across formats would come back to haunt him. He would make another comeback in Test cricket, but scores of 4, 0, 20, 1, 0 would be the end of his Test career. He would be in and out of the limited overs side, sometimes batting at #4 in Asia Cup ODIS, and sometimes almost finishing T20Is in New Zealand.
A score of 97* in IPL 2019 followed as he narrowly made the cut in the World Cup squad.
The Russian Roulette selection among Dinesh Karthik, Kedhar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar, and most infamously, Ambati Rayudu probably hurt all five and India in the 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final. Surprisingly promoted to No. 5, he tried to stem the fall of wickets before Jimmy Neesham’s brilliant catch ended his ODI career.
Is There Another Comeback On The Horizon?
He was one of the casualties of India’s post-tournament analysis, even dropped from the T20I side, where he had reasonable success.
Post-COVID, he had a tough time at the 2020 IPL, averaging only 14.08, his second worst season. Although he took KKR to a playoff spot in 2018, he would relieve captaincy duties to Eoin Morgan for the remainder of 2020 and 2021.
Since then, he has been vocal about fighting for a place in one of the T20 World Cups in the next two years purely as a finisher. Still the best finisher in India alongside Ravindra Jadeja & Hardik Pandya, the real question is, will we see DK 5.0?
Commentary Stint and The T-Shirt Collection
Even though we do not know his cricketing career will pan out, there is already a brief glimpse into the future.
He has become a social media celebrity with his Sky Sports stint providing apt analysis, providing daily weather updates, and most famously, showing the world his enviable T-shirt collection.
Karthik’s Legacy: Did he underachieve or overachieve?
Representing your nation in one international tournament is is an honor. In a topsy-turvy career, Karthik has somehow managed to be a part of the 2007 ODI World Cup, 2007 T20 World Cup, 2009 Champions Trophy, 2013 Champions Trophy, 2017 Champions Trophy, and the 2019 ODI World Cup. Sprinkle a couple of Asia Cups in there as well.
There are two school of thoughts on Dinesh Karthik’s career. Did he fulfill his potential? Maybe. Maybe not.
From a glass half empty perspective, one can observe that as a gifted batter and a giant in domestic cricket, he could not make most of his opportunities and cement a place in the Indian national team. On the other hand, he never got an extended run in one format at a time, constantly playing in different roles and formats. Hence, the fact that we are still talking about him after 17 years is still an achievement.
DK’s career consisted of memorable high peaks in a relatively plateau of a career. Opening in England, twin List A tons in Champions Trophy warm ups, winning an IPL Trophy with Mumbai Indians and T20I World Cup in 2007, stumpings and catches galore, and giving fans the Nidahas Trophy Final to cherish, he has made his mark.
“Even if I don’t get the opportunity to play sport at the highest level, I want to be content with the fact that I have given it everything I have had. Not only on the field, but off the field.”
The Road Less Traveled By
Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
When India needed a wicketkeeper, Dinesh Karthik was a wicketkeeper. India needed an overseas opener, in came DK, the opener. When they needed a #4, he became a #4. Finally, when all the spots were filled, he became a specialist finisher.
Although he was an anomaly in the previous era, current Indian wicketkeepers might keep an eye on his career very carefully. It is likely that not all of KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, KS Bharat will get a constant run. So they should be prepared to be dropped and come back stronger, maybe with a different role.
Dinesh Karthik’s career might not have gone according to the original plan but his journey has been interesting nevertheless. He modified his approach, adapted to the circumstances, and always strived to improve his individual game.
What Can We Learn From Dinesh Karthik?
Numerous players were dropped at an early age and could never find a way to come back. Others could manage to comeback only briefly because they were pigeonholed to a single role. Karthik frequently took the road less traveled by, refined his old skills, while learning new ones at the go.
When he arrived in the international arena, he was a good player who had the potential to excel in three formats and don several roles. After years of repetitive self correction and recalibration, he has now developed his own unique niche—overs 16 to 20 as a T20 finisher, a position where he is the best. Power-hitters like Pollard, Russell, and Pandya might be better finishers in general but not many have the match awareness and can play the field as Karthik does in those end overs.
So what can we learn from Dinesh Karthik? Always be self-aware, prepare for the worst, focus on the process, wear nice shirts, be yourself, adapt to the surroundings, be ready for the opportunity, and provide energy to others around you.
I would love to finish this article with a bang, but what can I say—The finisher is not yet finished.
Test: 26 matches, 1025 runs, 25.00 average, best of 129, 100s/50s – 1/7, 57 catches, 6 stumpings
ODI: 94 matches, 1752 runs, 30.20 average, best of 79, 50s-9, 64 catches, 7 stumpings
T20I: 32 matches, 399 runs, 33.25 average, 143.52 SR, best of 48, 14 catches, 5 stumpings
T20: 321 matches, 6221 runs, 27.40 average, 133.55 SR, best of 97*, 193 catches, 61 stumpings
IPL & Dinesh Karthik’s Career In a Nutshell
2004: ODI, Test debuts
2004-05: Tests only
2006: T20I debut, ODIs only
2007: ODI World Cup, Test opener, T20I World Cup (winner), Syed Mushtaq Ali winners (captain)
2008: 1 T20I, 3 Tests only, Delhi Daredevils
2009-2010: Mostly ODIs, some T20Is, 1 Test, Delhi Daredevils
2011: Kings XI Punjab
2012: Mumbai Indians
2013: ODIs only, Champions Trophy winner, Mumbai Indians (winners)
2014: ODIs only, Delhi Daredevils
2015: Royal Challengers Bangalore
2016: Gujarat Lions
2017: Champions Trophy, ODIs, Gujarat Lions
2018: T20Is, Nidahas Trophy, Test recall, ODI #4 battle, Kolkata Knight Riders (captain)
2019: T20Is, ODIs, ODI World Cup, dropped, Kolkata Knight Riders (captain)
2020: Kolkata Knight Riders (captain, 7 matches)
2021: Syed Mushtaq Ali winners (captain), Kolkata Knight Riders
“The lead up to the [2008 auctions], Dinesh Karthik the person was convinced the best player from Tamil Nadu, the biggest name from Tamil Nadu playing for the country…definitely CSK were going to pick me. The question was whether they were going to make me captain or not….It was the biggest dagger to my heart. It’s been 13 years and I am still waiting for that elusive call from CSK”
Famous French fashion designer Coco Chanel professed that “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”
Simplicity and Intensity were the hallmarks of Dale Steyn’s illustrious career—ever smiling character with a popping veins-chainsaw celebration, a smooth, silky action that delivered lethal bouncers, a humble down-to-earth character who assumed the mantle of being the greatest fast bowler of his generation.
Hence, it was true to his character that he hung up his boots via an understated tweet. He signed off with a snippet from the Counting Crows rock band and summed up the end as “bittersweet, but grateful…It’s been 20 years of training, matches, travel, wins, losses, strapped feet, jet lag, joy, and brotherhood.”
Steyn was thrusted in the international arena after just seven first class games. He began his Test career on December 17, 2004 against England, debuting in the same match as the another-to-be legend, Abraham Benjamin de Villiers.
Both teams had great bowlers. On the opposite end—Steve Harmison, Simon Jones, Matthew Hoggard, and Andrew Flintoff (formed the core of the great 2005 Ashes series), while South Africa had the dependable duo of Shaun Pollock & Makhaya Ntini.
Then arrived a 21-year old boy in iconic fashion, going through the gates of Marcus Trescothick and breaking a 152-run opening partnership. In the 43rd over. Full and straight. Slight movement. He screamed. Crowd erupted.
Usually, one brilliant delivery in a match is good enough. However, the ball from Steyn’s debut that is remembered is that Michael Vaughan ball in the second innings. Good length, outswing, beats the bat, off stump rooted. Perfection.
Although South Africa eventually lost that match, they found someone would would win them the decade.
Dale Steyn Stats – Strike Rate Like No Other
Before we jump into his best hits, let us look over some numbers really quick.
We tend to focus on batting strike rate much more due to T20 cricket and increasing run-rates, but to understand what set Steyn apart, we need to understand bowling strike rate. Bowling strike rate is the number of balls taken per dismissal on average. The lower, the better.
7/51 (Innings) 11/60 (Match)
7/51 (Innings) 10/108 (Match)
Steyn in Tests
Steyn in ODIs and T20Is
To put this into perspective, for those with at least 100 Test wickets, Waqar Younis (43.4), Shoaib Akhtar, (45.7), and Allan Donald (47) are the only other contemporary fast bowlers who were close to Steyn’s SR. From an earlier era, Malcolm Marshall (46.7) was the best, while Kagiso Rabada (41.2), Anrich Nortje, and Pat Cummins (47.1) are in the race right now.
(42.30) 6th Best Strike Rate of All-Time, 3rd Best post-World War I. Only Shane Bond (38.7) & fellow countrymen Kagiso Rabada (41.2) higher
3rd Fastest to 400 wickets, and the joint-fastest fast bowler to this mark alongside Sir Richard Hadlee (80 matches)
Most Test Wickets for South Africa, surpassing Shaun Pollock’s 421 wickets.
8th Highest Wicket-Taker of All-Time (Only Muralitharan, Warne, Anderson*, Kumble, McGrath, Broad, Walsh ahead. None had a strike rate below 51.9)
ICC Test Cricketer of the Year (2008)
ICC Test Team of the Decade (2020)
#1 Ranked ICC Test Bowler (2008-2014) – 78 wickets at 16.24 in the 2007/08 season.
IPL: Royal Challengers Bangalore, Deccan Chargers, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Other T20 Leagues: Cape Town Blitz (Mzansi Super League), Melbourne Stars, Islamabad United, Quetta Gladiators, Kandy Tuskers
My Favorite Steyn Memory
My favorite aspect about Steyn was his action. Just a joy to watch. Anytime any format if Steyn is bowling, I would turn my TV on.
You see, the Shoaib Akthars and Lasith Malingas are legends in their own rights, but emulating their actions is a convoluted task. The two pace bowlers with almost perfect actions that I tried to imitate in gully cricket were Brett Lee and Dale Steyn. Uncomplicated yet effective.
To be perfectly honest, I do not remember his specific bowling figures from the top of my head. He has bowled so consistently over the decades that you only remember his iconic wickets or spells. More often than not he probably took a 4-fer or a 5-fer. Most times, I was scared for my favorite batter in the opposite camp, and that is the beauty of Dale Steyn—the ability to send shivers in the opposite camp but in an awe-inspiring, charming kind of manner.
The Rise of Dale Steyn, Conqueror of All Conditions
It would be difficult to go through all of his 29 5-fers, so let us talk about the greatest hits from Steyn’s career. Dropped after his early debut, he made a comeback. Against New Zealand, he would get his first five-fer in 2006.
He had memorable spells against England, Australia, and New Zealand. He took 5 wicket hauls in every condition and situation. Either with helpful seaming conditions or reverse swing.
He has literally taken a 5-fer against every country he played against.
Best Figures (Overall) Against This Team
Best Figures In This Country
The King of Asia
Steyn’s best figure was 7/51 at Nagpur in 2010, but it was his 5/23 in Ahmedabad (2008) that landed him in the lengdary fast bowling pantheon, when India were skittled out for 76 at home soil. His brilliant consistency in the 2008 series against India continued- 4/103 (Chennai), 5/23 & 3/91 (Ahmedabad), 3/71 (Kanpur).
In Sri Lanka, he lifted his game even more. 5/82 (2006), and beast mode in 2014 (5/54, 4/45, 2/69, 2/59). He even landed a 5/56 in Karachi (2007) and had a best innings of 4/48 in Bangladesh.
In limited overs, his record is decent as well although he did not play as many matches. 5 wickets in Nagpur against India in the 2011 World Cup, 4-0-17-4 figures while defending a thriller in the 2014 T20I World Cup, and a T20I economy of under-7 suggests he was a much better bowler than his T20 leagues returns suggest.
It would be grave injustice if I did not mention his batting. He was more than a useful down-the order player. Two Test fifties including a crucial 76 and a best of 60 in ODIs meant he was a better than a tailender, but not quite an all-rounder. Kemar Roach-esque batting abilities.
Steyn Vs AB De Villiers IPL
Another riveting memory is the 2012 IPL game between Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinawamy. 24 runs in one over. The inside out shot was the best of them all and even got a wry smile from Steyn in appreciationg of ABD’s class.
The brilliance of that passage of play was two players at the top of their games in a pressure situation and for once, Steyn had lost to his fellow countrymen.
Another miraculous part of Steyn’s journey was his career of two halves—with respect to injuries.
Usually a fast bowler succumbs to an injury early in their career and comes back stronger, more well built (like Pat Cummins). An injury in the middle of the career means lowering the pace and focusing on line & length (like Munaf Patel). Another extreme is Brett Lee or Shane Bond (always injured, played cricket in between without compromising speed).
Steyn completely escaped this phase and never lost control, momentum, or pace. However, the law of averages came back to bite him at the end of his career.
Injury. Rehabilitation. Few games. Repeat.
2013 (Groin Strain, Side Strain)
2014 (Rib Fracture, 3 Hamstring Strains)
2015 (Groin Strain)
2015-16 (Shoulder Injury)
2017 (Freak heel injury)
2019 (Shoulder Injury) after being selected into the ODI World Cup squad
Climbing the Peak
Although his goal was to lift a trophy with South Africa, there was always a personal goal—to go one past Shaun Pollock. After numerous injuries, he got back up on his feet and on Boxing Day 2018, he took his 422nd wicket to become the leading wicket-taker for South Africa.
It was probably fate that Shaun Pollock would be commentating on that exact moment. Watch the video below to relieve that moment and all of his major milestone wickets till then.
After his shoulder injury again just before South Africa’s 2019 campaign started (and derailed), he announced on 5 August 2019 he would retire from Tests to focus on limited overs cricket. He ended at 439 after going past 400 in 2014.
Loss of form, pandemic, and postponement of the T20 World Cups meant it was time to retire in the other formats as well.
Who Is Dale Steyn, The Person?
Now that we know how good Steyn is as a bowler, let us get an insight on who the person he truly is—what really makes Dale Steyn kick.He has a life outside cricket, ya know? Thankfully, his interviews, especially this ESPNCricinfo’s Cricket Monthly interview with Nagraj Gollapudi,provides us a glimpse into his life.
Dale Steyn was born in the small town of Phalaborwa in the Limpopo Province (borders Kruger National Park in South Africa). Maybe the natural environment around him had an effect of him since he became an out-doorsy kind of person. Skateboarding, surfing, and fishing are some of his favorite hobbies. He even flexed his acting muscles for a cameo role in a Drew Barrymore-Adam Sandler movie Blended.
He is a natural athlete who competed at various sports from an early level. 100 meter sprints, long jump, triple jump, high jumps all prepared him for long spells of bowling in Test match arena. He wanted to be like “Allan Donald through the air, but I wanted to land the ball the way Polly landed.. I wanted to be a faster version of Shaun Pollock.“
The best of both worlds.
Steyn said that the “difference between a good fast bowler and a brilliant fast bowler is the wickets column.” He always backed himself to take wickets regardless of the condition and taking 5-fers in every Test playing nation was one of his goals. Here is his collection of souvenir cricket balls.
Dale Steyn shows his collection of souvenir fifer balls 🔥
In order to rise to this level, he has had a lot of support from his coaches, Chris van Noordwyk, Vinnie Barnes, Geoff Clarke, and captains, Graeme Smith, AB De Villiers, and Hashim Amla.
Other Interesting Steyn Facts
There were couple of other cool snippets in there as well. Keeping his cool against dropped catches, facing the Kohlis and de Villiers, altercation with Michael Clarke, Tests vs ODIs, Tendulkar Vs Donald, and video analysis & field settings.
A fun fact is that his full run up is 19 meters, 21 steps, which helps him avoid bowling no-balls. Why is this important? Well because he once took a wicket on a no-ball early in the innings, and it cost his team dearly. The batter was Kumar Sangakkara and the innings became famous for the record 624 partnership with Mahela Jayawardene.
Now for a moment, let us put ourselves into Dale Steyn’s shoe. He dominated the world between 2008 and 2015. Responsibility for the last over of a World Cup semi-final rested on his shoulders (which would literally break a year later). South Africa’s history of collapses and chokes running in the background.
How must have it felt. Carrying the burden of the nation, the tag of the best fast bowler of the generation. One good ball, and you are in the legendary books. One bad ball, and you are scarred for life. Vettori squeezing a wide yorker, chaos in the field, overthrow chances. Steyn calm under pressure. Yet a half-volley in the small grounds of Auckland and Elliot did not miss his chance to glory.
Six. South Africa out. Steyn changed forever.
He reveals how he knew he was going to bowl the final over irrespective of Brendon McCullum’s expensive assault earlier in the innings. After all, he defended 7 runs in the 2014 T20 World Cup match against the same opposition. (He ended with 4-0-17-4 in Bangladesh. Wow). “This year was the hardest in dealing with that pain after the World Cup…We had our chances to win the game…Knowing that you have put four years’ hard work in, especially the last two years before the tournament, all you see is yourself holding the trophy. And then you don’t.”
The Downfall of the Great Era
With Steyn’s retirement, this is the close of one of the better chapters in South African cricket (Technically Faf and Tahir are still available for T20 World Cup selection, but have not been selected recently). All of them deserve a separate article.
Herschelle Gibbs was the architect of that 438 chase. Graeme Smith was the young leader who could bat with a broken hand. The pure class of Hashim Amla & AB De Villiers was unmatched. Faf’s leadership & resilience and once-in-a-generation-allrounder, Jacques Kallis, are often underrated. JP Duminy & Mark Boucher were the utility players every team needs for balance.
Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Rabada
Donald, Ntini, and Pollock passed on the baton to Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, and Kagiso Rabada—possibly the greatest line up (if only for just a few Tests). Philander’s swing made him the second fastest to 50 wickets, while Morne’s height and action bamboozled one and all. Rabada will soon form his leagacy of his own, and Imran Tahir was the energy boost South Africa required.
Together, they conquered teams overseas and became the No. 1 Test Team of the decade, the only ones to really challenge the great 2000s Australia team consistently and win away from home in the 2010s.
The future of South Africa lies with Quinton de Kock, Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Janneman Malan (100+ average in 9 ODIs by the way), Keshav Maharaj, and Tabraiz Shamsi. This is a pretty solid core, but it will take quite a few generations to reach the heights of Steyn’s South African team.
The Legacy of Dale Steyn
To answer this question, we must first ask ourselves what is great fast bowling?
Is it swinging it like Jimmy Anderson? Putting fear in the opposition’s heart like a Mitchell Johnson or Shoaib Akhtar? Delivering consistent line and lengths like Glenn McGrath & Shaun Pollock? Having a seamless action like Brett Lee? Bowling yorkers at will like a Mitchell Starc? Reverse swing like Waqar Younis?
Imagine all of these players. Package them into one. Add a tinge of humbleness with Sam Curran’s ability to make things happen. There you have it. Dale Steyn, the greatest Test pace bowler of all time.
The 1980s had Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, and the West Indies fast bowlers. The 1990s with was dominated by the Pakistan duo Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee all played stellar roles in this era as well. Steyn, Akhtar, and Lee a carried the baton to the next generation and made sure that “fast bowling is cool.” In the age of T20 cricket where sixes are hit on will, Steyn played his part in extending the beauty of pace bowling. The fact that Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje have arrived on the scene has to be credited to senior bowlers like Steyn & Morkel.
He ends that interview with, “The moment I feel I can’t contribute anymore I will not hang on. And if I fall just short of 100 Test matches or five short of 500 Test wickets, that’s fine.”
Unfortunately, that his how it ended. 7 short of a 100 Tests and 61 short of 500 wickets. Legendary career nevertheless.
Dale Steyn Vs Jimmy Anderson – Let Us Settle The Debate
Every generation, there are three to five great fast bowlers but maybe one all-time great. We should be grateful we had two. Jimmy Anderson, the greatest swing bowler in the history of Test cricket and Dale Steyn, the greatest pace bowler of all-time.
Let us appreciate both and cheer on Jimmy Anderson in whatever time he has left.
What Can We Learn From Dale Steyn?
Being at the top for over a decade requires immense discipline and fitness levels.
It is one thing to be a great fast bowler. Another to comeback with the same intensity. Not once, not twice. But thrice. My heart sank when his freak heel injury occurred, a sign that the end was near.
I just wanted him to bowl some more. Another Test. Just another spell. Maybe one more over.
Every good thing comes to an end, and so does his magnificent career. I am sure he will continue to inspire athletes around the world and mentor fast bowlers like he did in his career. We will all miss watching Dale Steyn dominate the best batting attacks around the world. I will miss that anger, speed, cartwheeling stumps, celebration, and of course, the action.
Kids, if you are reading this and want to make a sports person your idol, there is no one better than the great Dale Steyn. So what can we learn from Dale Steyn?
Give it your all on the field and be a decent human being off it. Steyn might have shown plenty of emotions in intense situations, but outside the cricket ground, he is a super chill dude who likes to fish and stay away from conflict.
The truth is that being gifted alone cannot make you great. Simplicity. Honesty. Hard work. Discipline. Consistency. Longevity. Adaptability. You need all characteristics to work in sync.
Steyn was gifted. Not everyone can bowl at such high pace. If you are talented in a particular area and enjoy doing it, you should pursue it further. In order to convert the potential into actual realization, persevere and power through.
You will eventually find your away. Just like a Steyn outswinger that beat the bat and rattled the top of off stump.