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.
England Vs New Zealand 2021 Test Series Review – Short but good nevertheless.
Devon Conway & Will Young eased into Test cricket, New Zealand tried their options for the World Test Championship Final, and England lost some options as they gear up for the India series & the must awaited Ashes later this season.
Tim Southee – 7 wickets (1 match only) (best innings – 6/43, best match – 7/80, 11.42 average)
England Vs New Zealand 2021 Series Stats
England’s batting continues to go down hill after the 1st test against India. They have now lost 4 and drawn 1 in the past five Tests (2 at home, 4 away). All the hopes and dreams after away series wins in South Africa and Sri Lanka are crashing down quickly.
The Batting: England’s Batting Averages Just Not Good Enough
One of the highlights of Kimber’s analysis was Rory Burns has been a stable cog in this English lineup despite the poor numbers. He scored a brilliant ton and almost carried the bat in this series, which increased his Test average to 33.23 with 3 hundreds and 9 fifties. Not the best stats after 25 Tests, but the Sibley-Rory partnership has done a decent job in the past couple of years. Well, not quite Strauss-Cook, but the standards have been so low recently that a Burns century should be rightly celebrated.
Zak Crawley’s scores in this series—2 & 2, 0 & 17. Not good enough for a #3 batter at home. I hope England persist with him but he needs to meet them halfway, nothing of note since that 267.
Ollie Pope looks like Ian Bell, bats like Ian Bell, but I hope he starts converting like Ian Bell. Beautiful 20s and 30s can only get you so far—think James Vince (22 & 20*, 19 & 23 this series).
The batting averages of England’s main batters are far from impressive. Joe Root’s overall average is great, but has been struggling at home for quite a while now.
Rory Burns (33.23), Dom Sibley (30.78), Zak Crawley (29.33), Joe Root (48.68), Ollie Pope (31.50), Jos Buttler (34.53), Ben Stokes (37.04).
Commentator Nasser Hussain did not mince any words in the post-series analysis, urging their batters to get back to basics and avoid funny techniques. The current England batters have the mindset that:
“Everyone else that has played the game in the history of the game. Viv Richards you were wrong. Everyone is wrong, we are right.”
The senior fast bowlers were the only positives of the series. Mark Wood impressed…with the bat. He was among the wickets and consistently bowled his heart out as usual but his 41 & 29 in the 2nd Test showed England that the pitch does not contain any demons.
The old Stuart Broad showed up. In the 2nd Test, it seems that one of those spells was just around the corner. One of the bright lights in the series. Definitely got a couple more years left in him.
Jimmy Anderson was not as sharp this series, with just 3 wickets and averaging 68.66. Surpassed Alastair Cook as the most capped Test player for England-162 Tests. Take a bow.
The Debutants Star
In every series review, I highlight a couple of standout performers of the series. Guess what? In EVERY New Zealand series over the last year, Devon Conway has made the series headlines. T20I debut? Conquered. ODI debut? Check. Test debut at Lord’s? Double century and almost carries the bat. What else is there to say? 76.50 Test average, 75.00 ODI average, 59.12 T20I average. 1-200, 1-100, 4-50s in just 18 innings. Brilliant.
Will Young is continuing his good touch. Scored his maiden T20I fifty against Bangladesh recently and was picked in the 2nd Test after Williamson’s injury on the basis of a couple of centuries in County Cricket. Missed his century by 18 runs, but has finally found his feet in international cricket. He his here to stay.
Matt Henry, Ajaz Patel, and Neil Wagner all impressed with whatever chances they got.
Henry picked 3/78 & 3/36 to bag the player of the match in the 2nd Test
Ajaz Patel’s control and guile were impressive with figures of 2/34 & 2/25.
Neil Wagner bowled line and length more than his usual bouncers. Not unplayable but impactful for sure. Should edge Kyle Jamieson/Matt Henry for the WTC Final spot.
Senior Pros Provide Solid Support
Tim Southee is gearing up to the WTC Final with a superb series. After having re-invented himself in T20Is this year, he has found his swing, line, & length again.
Ross Taylor, one of New Zealand’s greatest, justified that tagline with a 80 in the 2nd Test. The beauty of that innings was he was nowhere close to his best. Stuart Broad was beating his edge right and left, but he survived and capitalized later on. In contrast, England’s batting collapsed to 76-7 and none of the batters had the will to fight it out like Taylor did.
Unfortunately for BJ Watling, he suffered a minor back injury on the eve of the 2nd Test and missed out. Hope he is ready for his swansong in the World Test Championship final.
In addition to Rory Burns’ 81 in the 2nd Test, the only criticism for New Zealand I could find would be the lack of conversion for three batters (Conway 80, Young 82, Taylor 80).
Devon Conway & Will Young
Mark Wood, the batsman
Matt Henry & Ajaz Patel
Broken Cricket Dream
Ollie Robinson, Zak Crawley
England Vs New Zealand 2021 Series Awards
Where Do They Go From Here?
New Zealand will be in the World Test Championship Final starting tomorrow.
Apart from the various leagues in the next few months which will keep the New Zealand players busy, the next international fixture is scheduled between 29th January-8th February 2022 for 3 ODIs & a T20I.
We billed this series as the “Final Before the (WTC) Final” and after overseas victories for both India (vs Australia) and England (Vs Sri Lanka), the series had hype for the right reasons.
Instead this series will be remembered for exactly the wrong reasons—Discussions about the pitches in Chennai & Pink Ball Test, rotation policy & England’s treatment of Moeen Ali, and hasty umpiring decisions (along with Kohli’s priceless reactions).
There were some good days for cricket as well with Ishant Sharma’s 100 Tests & 300 wickets, Joe Root’s 218, Anderson’s dream over, Foakes’ & Pant’s wicket-keeping, R Ashwin’s 100 & 9-fer, Ashwin’s 32 & Axar’s 27 wickets, Sundar’s 85* & 96*, Rohit Sharma’s masterclass, and Pant’s reverse sweep (to Anderson) in a brilliant 100.
Read till the end for my picks for the best moments,emerging players, controversies, and much more! COMMENT BELOW ON YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS.
*Note: Underlined & Bolded links are videos. Underlined without bold are links to other articles.
Results – England Vs India
The reason why I did not enjoy this series as much was due to the lack of competitiveness. 227 runs, 317 runs, 10 wickets, and an innings victory was in complete contrast to the edge-of-the-seat stuff (last session draws/chases) in the Australia series.
India Ravichandran Ashwin – 189 runs (best of 106, average 31.50, 1 – 100)
Joe Root – 368 runs (best of 218, average 46.00, 100s/50s – 1/0)
Rohit Sharma – 345 runs (best of 161, average 57.50, 100s/50s -1/1
Jack Leach – 18 wickets (best innings – 4/54, best match – 6/178, 28.72 average, strike rate 53.6)
R Ashwin – 32 wickets (best innings – 6/61, best match – 9/207, 14.71 average, 35.2 SR, 3 5-fers
India Vs England 2021 Test Series Stats
1. We Miss The Non-Converting Joe Root
At the beginning of 2021, Joe Root’s stats read 17-100s, 49-50s. After the Sri Lanka & India tours, his stats read 20-100s, 49-50s. His last 6 Test matches show:
228 & 1 (run-out), 186 & 11, 218 & 40
6 & 33, 17 & 19, 5 & 30
Notice something? He converted 3 daddy hundreds, and then followed it up with 3 middling Test matches (mainly due to the intelligent bowling of Axar and Siraj). Now, we should not be too harsh on Root. The law of averages surely catches up, he had additional stress of captaincy, and he even bowled his heart out including a 5/8.
Still, the Joe Root who scored consistent 60s & 70s might have been more than handy on this low scoring tour. The 50th 50 would be cherry on top of his personally successful season.
2. Batting Wins Matches
Catches win matches? Sure. Need to take 20 wickets to secure a Test victory? Maybe.
How about batting with scores of 178, 134 & 164, 112 & 81, and 205 & 135? Definitely Not. This is called batting yourself out of a Test series. Let us dig a bit deeper:
Pope 153 runs at 19.12 (best of 34), Sibley 134 at 16.75 (best of 87) – 4 Tests each
Burns 58 runs at 14.50 (best of 33), Bairstow 28 at 7.00 (best of 7, 3 ducks), Crawley 67 at 16.75 (best of 53) – 2 Tests each
For international level cricket, if your Top 5 comprises of these players, barely-in-form Root-Stokes, and Buttler/Foakes, then this is just not going to cut it.
Maybe a certain Joe Denly might have been able to weather the storm better. If not the centuries, at least the Denturies would have come.
3. Anderson, Foakes & Lawrence The Bright Stars
Let us take out the stats for the moment, and look at the bright side.
Winning a Test match is not easy. Winning away even harder. Hence, the 227 run victory in Chennai should be regarded as a huge accomplishment, regardless of the 3-1 margin. (The issue was not the score line. Rather, it was the way they lost the final 3 Test matches).
Jimmy Anderson’s 6/40 in Galle & 3/17 in Chennai should rest the ‘Clouderson’ and ‘poor away record’ claims. That 3/17 included one of the best overs of reverse swing you will ever see. A well set Shubman Gill was bowled through the gate, Rahane survived an umpires call appeal, and then carbon copy bowled. Does not get any better than that.
On the turning pitches, Ben Foakes’ keeping was absolutely magnificent. His split-second stumping of Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant in the 2nd innings of the 2nd Test were quite something. (His batting showed signs of defiance, but could not reach his heights of his debut). Finally with 73 on debut and 46 & 50 in the final Test, Dan Lawrence showed some signs of steel.
Finally Channel 4 coverage was a win-win situation for the fans.
1. Axar Patel Invokes His Inner Embuldeniya, R Ashwin – The Man of the Hour
Just like Embuldeniya troubled England prior to this tour, Axar was the concern this time around. Straighter one, bounce, turn, guile, he had it all.
The best part is that Axar was not even supposed to play this series if not for Jadeja’s injury. 27 wickets at 10.59 with 4 5-wicket hauls & 1-10 wicket haul (best inning – 6/38, best match 11/70). Even got the opportunity to take a five-wicket haul at his home with some crowd. Stuff of dreams.
R Ashwin has got to be the most intelligent player in international cricket. He has a YouTube channel, reads books in his free time, is an engineer, can mess with the batsmen due to the Mankad-threat, talks to the media about a ‘bad pitch’, walks the talk with a 106 on the Chennai turner, and bamboozles the batsmen with skillful bowling.
The dismissals of Ollie Pope (carrom ball, beats the bat, bowled) in the final Test have to be my moments of this series.
2. The Sharmas Come To The Party
Wonderful achievement by Ishant Sharma for his 100th Test & 300 wickets. Just rewards for a brilliant journey over the last decade. Although this series was spin-dominated, Ishant Sharma 4.0 still has several years to offer to Indian cricket.
Rohit Sharma went very much under the radar this time, but India’s series victory was in jeopardy without his contributions. 161 on a tricky pitch was the turning moment of the series, and he followed it up with patient 26, 66 & 25*, and 49. In these low scoring matches, runs on the board provided the cushion for the spinners to dominate.
3. India’s Big 3 Just Not Good Enough, Depth Covers the Spots
Just like many other well-wishers, I had predicted Virat Kohli to come back in this series with a tough 50 at the start and a a double century by the end. The tough 72 in the 2nd innings at Chennai definitely came, but nowhere near the elusive 71st international century. Here are the stats:
Virat Kohli: 172 runs at 28.66 (best of 72, 2-50s, 2 ducks)
Ajinkya Rahane: 112 runs at 18.66 (best of 67, 1-50, 1 duck)
Cheteshwar Pujara: 133 runs at 22.16 (best of 73, 1-50, 1 duck)
I do not remember so many ducks by these 3. Nor do I remember a series where none fired.
Apart from Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, & R Ashwin all outscored the middle order stalwarts. Since India emerged victorious, the cracks are temporarily filled, but questions should be asked.
After that Melbourne innings, Rahane has not done enough. Pujara is doing fine and crucial to India’s line up, but is not converting to daddy hundreds at the moment.
Given India’s depth, is it time to breed in the next generation? Is it time to rotate home/away batsmen as India rotates fast bowlers/ spinners?
The umpiring decisions in the 2nd & 3rd Tests caught the attention of the public. It was not necessarily the decisions made, but the manner in which they were decided (Ben Stokes’ catch – on field out, but turned over quickly). A standard procedure & muting the umpires’ conversation may be the way to go forward here.
By the end of the series, it was easily recognized that England’s lack of batting application led to their downfall, not the state of the pitches. However, 2-day & 3-day matches do not anybody a favor, either. The pink ball Test is supposed to get more public to watch the game, but most of these matches are ending in 3 or 4 days, which is counterintuitive. The first Test may have been the most balanced pitch, even though it was slow & attritional for the first day and a half.
Finally, the rotation policy. England’s rotation policy has possibly extended the careers of Broad & Anderson, given a chance to youngsters fighting for a national spot, and is important in the coronavirus era due to mental health. Rotation is not necessarily a bad thing, but how it was implemented in this series was dodgy.
Archer, Burns, & Stokes were rested for the series in Sri Lanka, while the rest of the squad stayed. However, Buttler left after one Test, Moeen Ali finally playing a Test only to go back home (due to miscommunication), Bairstow played the last two, Woakes left without playing, so on and so forth.
I cannot imagine how much the constant traveling & jet lag, inconsistency in selection & unsettled line-ups, and not having enough practice games might have impacted their minds. I can understand rotation between series, but during a series is a bit much.
And if this rotation was for the preparation for upcoming T20 World Cup & IPL, losing out to the WTC Final spot at home should seriously be questioned.
We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series. Here they are:
India made Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel (greatest understudy of all time), and Washington Sundar into world class all-rounders. England took a world class all-rounder in Moeen Ali and practically destroyed a budding career.
Dan Lawrence, Rotation Policy
Lower Middle Order
Dom Bess’s Full Tosses; Joe Root’s 5-fer
Broken Cricket Dream
Shardul Thakur – Did not get a game after a 92 & 4-fer at Gabba Dreams Broken For Fans Wanting Ashwin to become the 4th player to do the double of 100 + 10-fer
Stuart Broad’s Asian Dream, Jonny Bairstow’s Test Career, Moeen Ali
India Vs England 2021 Test Series Awards
Where Do They Go From Here?
A 5 match T20I series & 3-match ODI series to follow, preparing for the upcoming T20I World Cup in India. Then, we will have the IPL, England will play a couple of test matches against the New Zealand at home, and finally India Vs New Zealand for the WTC final.
After England’s victory at Chennai, I declared that this English team could rival the 2010-2012 team due to the good mix of youth, experience, & abroad victories. I guess that was a bit premature.
Was this India Vs England 2021 Test series the ‘greatest story of all time’ like the India Vs Australia? Nope.
Was it as controversial as the South Africa Vs Australia scandalous ball tampering series? Not really.
At best, this was just a Meh kind of series. Had its moments, but did not capture the imagination of the next generation. Sums it up for the World Test Championship.
What did you think of the India Vs England 2021 Test Series? Let us know!
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Today we discuss Top 50 England Cricket Team players.
England’s rotation policy is well documented. Anderson and Broad have been preserved for more than a decade, while the Woods, Stones, Archers, and Currans rotate. Their bowling depth is quite vast.
After years of mediocre cricket, England’s rise post 2015 has been nothing short of marvelous. 2016 WT20 final, 2017 Champions Trophy semi-finals, winning it all in the 2019 World Cup, and the team to beat at the upcoming 2021 T20 World Cup. Their limited overs bench strength is quite something. In Tests, they have now won a record 6 in a row overseas.
Build FOUR England National Cricket Teams: 2 Test teams, an ODI, and a T20I XI so that (1) each team can field a team (wicketkeeper & 5 bowling options), and (2) a player is not repeated in any of the lists.
Would you pick Ben Stokes for the Test team, ODI, or the T20I? How about Jofra Archer? Is Buttler more dangerous ODI middle-order batsman or a T20I opener?
Can you make all 4 teams balanced? The goal is that each team is just as good and competitive on the international stage. The ODI & T20I teams should be good enough for the World Cups and the Test teams for the World Test Championship.
England Cricket Team Players
Test Team 1
1. Rory Burns
2. Dom Sibley
3. Zak Crawley
4. Joe Root (C)
5. Ollie Pope
6. Ben Foakes (WK)
7. Jofra Archer
8. Stuart Broad
9. Dom Bess
10. Jack Leach
11. James Anderson
Test Team 2
1. Haseeb Hameed
2. Keaton Jennings
3. Joe Denly
4. Dan Lawrence
5. Moeen Ali (C)
6. James Bracey* (WK)
7. Sam Curran
8. Craig Overton
9. Jake Ball
10. Mason Crane
11. Olly Stone
England Cricket Limited Overs Teams
1. Jason Roy
2. Jonny Bairstow (WK)
3. Eoin Morgan (C)
4. Ben Stokes
5. Jos Buttler (WK)
6. Sam Billings
7. Chris Woakes
8. David Willey
9. Adil Rashid
10. Mark Wood
11. Saqib Mahmood
1. Alex Hales
2. James Vince
3. Dawid Malan (C)
4. Tom Banton
5. Liam Livingstone
6. Ben Duckett (WK)
7. Lewis Gregory
8. Liam Dawson
9. Chris Jordan
10. Tom Curran
11. Reece Topley
I made sure Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales were in different teams (ouch).
David Willey narrowly missed out on that World Cup squad, but here, Archer plays for the Test team, while Willey makes the ODI XI. Best of both worlds.
Initially I had Sam Billings as a T20I finisher/captain, but had to fill a space in the ODIs (given Root was picked for the Test squad). Hence, Ben Duckett was added to the T20I XI.
Extended List of Prospects
These are just the 44 that are ready for the international level. Here is an extended list of players for the next decade. These players were either (1) selected for the 55-men ECB training squad when cricket returned from COVID, (2) have recently represented England Lions, or (3) were picked from the recent T10 League.
Youngsters to Watch Out (26 or Below): 48. Jamie Overton, 49. Tom Helm, 50. Tom Moores (WK), 51. George Garton, 52. Tom Abell, 53. Alex Davies (WK), 54. Phil Salt, 55. Pat Brown, 56. Henry Brookes, 57. Tom Kohler-Cardmore, 58. Will Jacks, 59. Sam Hain, 60. Brydon Carse
Ex-International Players Out of Favor(but still dominating T20 or County Circuits): 61. Luke Wright, 62. Liam Plunkett, 63. Samit Patel, 64. Adam Lyth, 65. Ravi Bopara, 66. Gary Ballance, 67. Steven Finn
Others:68. Ben Cox (WK), 69. Laurie Evans, 70. Richard Gleeson, 71. Sam Northeast, 72. Adam Hose, 73. Sam Wisniewski, 74. Daniel Bell-Drummond, 75. Joe Clarke*
*was named in Alex Hepburn rape trial and since been reprimanded. Doubt he will ever be selected for England
England’s ODI, T20I, and first string Test squad are stronger than India’s, but India’s second string Test squad AND depth of reserves is probably higher quality. I even had to pick Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings for the second string Test opening (given that it has taken a decade for England to replace Strauss-Cook in their first string squad, it is no surprise I had trouble in this regard).
England has an abundance of pace bowlers, but the next generation of batsmen have not yet been groomed.
Now, a lot of India’s players (50-75) were the youngsters emerging from the recent U-19 World Cups and IPL 2020 (post-COVID). Since The Hundred was cancelled last year, the English public were robbed of watching exciting young talent. Who knows, after the 2021 edition of The Hundred, maybe England’s depth can overpower India.
What do you think of England cricket team players right now? What will your England XIs be?COMMENT BELOW!
If you like this, check out the rest of our World XIs with TwistsHere – Best Fielding XI, Best Commentators XI, and much more!
Joe Root Vs Lasith Embuldeniya. That’s it, that’s the end of the series review….
Just Kidding, but boy it felt like Root vs Embuldeniya, didn’t it? At one point in the 2nd Test, Embuldeniya was hitting sixes and the golden arm of Joe Root was called upon to take his wicket and clean up the tail.
Yet, this short two-Test series had several other actors and memorable moments. The 2-0 score line may not have been close, but the contest was enthralling, nevertheless.
Broad’s initial burst, Bess’s uncanny wicket taking ability, Dan Lawrence’s dazzling debut, Niroshan Dickwella’s high-five face slap, Leach and Embuldeniya’s brilliance, Sibley and Thirimanne’s revival, Dickwella’s sledging, Bairstow and Buttler’s solidity, Mathews and Root’s centuries, Dickwella’s 92, and of course, Jimmy Anderson being well…Jimmy Anderson (in Asia).
Read till the end for my picks for the best moments,emerging players, lookout for the India Vs England series, and much more! COMMENT BELOW ON YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS.
*Note: Underlined & Bolded links are videos. Underlined without bold are links to other articles.
1. Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler: Critics Go Out The Window
Joe Root just does not like scoring 100s. Either 50s or daddy hundreds.
Do you all remember a few weeks ago in the India Vs Australia series, the commentators were discussing about the Big 3? That seems ages ago. In the preview article, I argued that
“Root is still a stellar player with an amazing record. The fact that England do not seem to need him as much as the other countries is a reflection of the strength of this English team, not the fall of a rising career. I hope he answers his critics with the bat.“
186, 228, 2/0, and 7 catches later, Joe Root has answered his critics in some style. He has gone from being criticized for his poor conversion-rate to becoming England’s #4 all time tally, surpassing Boycott, Pietersen, and Gower on the way (Suddenly, predictions of catching Tendulkar’s Test runs have opened since he is only 30).
2. The Rest of the Batting
Crawley had a horrid tour with the bat (4 innings, 35 runs at 8.75), Sibley with 62 runs in his 4 (including a 56* in his last innings), and Sam Curran at 7 a spot too high (2 innings, 13 runs at 6.5).
Bairstow (4 innings, 139 at 46.33) and Buttler (3 innings, 131 at 65.5) fared much better, while Dan Lawrence had little to show after his sparkling 73 on debut.
Bairstow at 3 again? Yes he is a good player of spin, but does he warrant a position in the squad? Several questions were asked pre-series.
With the struggles of Crawley and Sibley, Bairstow did a good repair job with 47 (93), 35* (65), 28 (73), 29 (28). A makeshift English #3 batsmen on foreign soil, successfully denting the new ball without converting it…Where I have I heard this before?Bairstow’s tour was so…Denly-esque.
3. Youth & Senior Pros Combine to Bamboozle Sri Lanka
Stuart Broad (3/34 at 11.33) & James Anderson (6/46 at 7.66): No Sign of Aging
Dom Bess (12/255 at 21.25) & Jack Leach (10/355 at 35.5): Here To Stay?
Stuart Broad’s resurgence in the past year or so has been heartening, and Anderson’s fitness just becomes better with age. Anderson’s home swing advantage has always clouded his greatness and longevity, but his 6/40 at Galle in the 2nd Test was as good as any.
Dom Bess himself admitted his bowling may not have deserved a 5-fer in the 1st Test. Maybe once or twice, you can call it a fluke but 5/30, 3/100, 4/49 along with a handy 32 with the bat shows he is willing to learn & improve his skills. Jack Leach’s numbers probably do not reflect his 110.5 overs worth of effort, but both of them are here to stay.
It is pretty clear that England are going to rotate Broad/Anderson, pick Mark Wood (tad unlucky this time around) for pace, and play both spinners for the upcoming India series (given Moeen Ali does not come back for Sam Curran).
1. Thirimanne & Angelo Matthews
Lahiru Thirimanne was our contender for the Broken Dream in our preview. Just look at his stats:
Average of 22.68 after 36 Tests, 1 century after a decade on the international scene
He came back with a solid 111 and 43 in this series, and has ‘extended’ his place in the side. Will take a few more consistent performances to cement his place. I was also looking forward to a Chandimal-Thirimanne-Mathews solid middle order foundation. Chandimal had a Bairstow-like with a 52 and a couple of 20s, while Mathews was Sri Lanka’s most run-getter including a hard-fought 71 and 110.
88 Tests, 6194 runs at 45.54, with 11 100s, best of 200*– Mathews is slowly approaching Sri Lanka’s Legend Status.
(SL Vs SA): 396 & 180, 157 & 211, (SL vs Eng): 381 & 126, 135 & 359
Notice a pattern yet? For England, Root scored a mammoth 426 with Bairstow-Buttler scoring 139 & 131 runs respectively. Sri Lanka had 5 scorers over 100 & Mathews/Thirimanne did convert, but there were just not enough match winning partnerships. Partnerships are the key to success. As we can see from the beginning of the South Africa tour, Sri Lanka have scored 350+ 3/8 times, but they have also collapsed 4/8 times.
Sri Lanka were not bad, but inconsistency in the other innings killed any chance they had.
4 innings, 119 overs, 15/415 at 27.66, best of 7/37, 1 5-fer, 1 10-fer
The reason why batting inconsistency hurt more this time around is because with Lasith Embuldeniya, Sri Lanka actually believed they could win.
In the first match, chasing a mere 74, England were down 14/3. Embuldeniya made it look like a landmine, but just there were just not enough runs on the board. He bowled tireless spells, opened the bowling, and even hit an aggressive 40 (37) in the 2nd Test to take the score from 78-8 to 126.
The name, the action, the wicket taking ability – have Sri Lanka finally found someone to carry the legacy of Muralitharan and Rangana Herath? Only time will tell.
4 – Ducks in a Row for Kusal Mendis (including SA series). His replacement, Ramesh Mendis, carried on the tradition and opened his account with a duck as well.
6 – Wins In a row for England in Sri Lanka. Huge accomplishment – Kudos! It is never easy to tour Sri Lanka at home and consistent results bode well. Oh yes. And England won without the likes of Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, and opener Rory Burns.
8 – Short of a maiden hundred for Niroshan Dickwella. So close, yet so far.
13 – Wickets Away from Anil Kumble’s 619 for the 3rd highest wicket-taker EVER for Jimmy Anderson. GOAT.
We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series. Here they are:
Who would have been your Emerging Player? Surprise Player? Broken Cricket Dream? Let us know below WITH COMMENTS! Also please share and subscribe below!
Where Do They Go From Here?
Sri Lanka’s 2021 outlook looks filled. They will complete some of the WTC matches that were cancelled in 2020. They will host/tour Bangladesh, go to West Indies, & host Ireland for a Test match as well. Second part of the year will be focused on the T20I World Cup.
Busy Year for England this. 17 Test Matches on the cards (Maybe more if they qualify for World Test Championship Final). Next Up – India. 4 Tests, 5 ODIs, 3 T20Is from February 4th to March 27th (Add IPL, the Hundred, & World T20 World Cup in the mix as well). The series is key to the WTC finals. England currently at 4th but slowly inching up (Just 3% separates #4 England from #1 India).
Several questions on England vs India TV rights and squad selections as well. Bairstow, Curran, Wood rested for the first couple of Test matches, while Buttler flies home after the 1st one.
With India surprising expectations in Australia, will we see a similar triumph for England against favorites India?
Where do Sri Lankan cricket go from here? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
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