When South Africa got back into the international fold in 1991-92, they rose pretty quickly to the pinnacle of Test cricket courtesy a group of star studded cricketers in Hansie Cronje, Daryll Cullinan, Jacques Kallis, Jonty Rhodes, Brian McMillan, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock to name a few.
The Proteas under their astute skipper Hansie Cronje won matches pretty consistently, both at home and away to become one of the dominant teams in the longer format of the game.
The cutting edge in their aggressive brand of cricket was their lethal pace attack which wreaked havoc among the best of batting lineups opposition. During most of the 90s, the Proteas pace attack was spearhead by Allan Donald who was perhaps the quickest bowler of his generation. Donald formed a fearsome pace battery with Fanie De Villiers, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener.
After the end of the Hansie Cronje era, South Africa looked forward to take their cricket to newer heights in the Test Arena. With a young and dynamic skipper Graeme Smith rebuilding the team, the Proteas soon had a new pace sensation in Dale Steyn. Steyn made a sensational debut against England in 2004 and there was no looking back from there.
South Africa again rose to become a formidable unit in Test cricket as they had a bagful of match winners in Hashim Amla, AB De Villiers, Faf Du Plessis, Herchelle Gibbs and Dale Steyn.
When Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini bid adieu to international cricket, Steyn took over as the frontline seamer of the Proteas pace attack. Steyn formed a deadly fast bowling pair with Morne Morkel and led a lethal pace attack which also had world class seamers in Veron Philander, Lonwabo Tsotobe and Kagiso Rabada.
Steyn was an outright strike weapon for the Proteas and contributed immensely to making South Africa the number one Test Team in the World. His 26- five wicket hauls and 5 ten wicket hauls are a testament to his match winning ability with the red cherry.
Steyn had all the ingredients in his bowing armoury to make him arguably the most dangerous seam bowler of his generation. He had a wonderful run up to the crease and bowled with one of the smoothest action. He could rack up some serious pace and swing the ball both ways from good areas.
He consistently probed around the off stump channel and was rewarded for his superlative consistency. Dale who started out as an speed merchant developed into a complete seamer and had a bagful of tricks to run through the defences of the best batsmen.
He tasted success not only in seam friendly conditions but also proved to be a game changer for South Africa on the docile batting friendly tracks of the sub-continent conditions. 94 wickets in 22 Tests in Asia showed how effective Steyn was in Asian conditions.
At the peaks of his prowess, Steyn was engaged in a pitched battle with England's James Anderson, Australia's Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson and India's Zaheer Khan as the best seam bowler of that era.
Steyn soon became the leading fast bowler in the world courtesy his knack of picking heaps of wickets all around the world. He became the first seamer to bag five wicket hauls against all the Test playing nations.
He had the best strike rate in Test cricket among all his contemporaries (Bowlers with 200+ wickets) and was among the fastest to reach the 200, 250,300 and 350-wicket milestones in Test cricket.
439 wickets in 93 Tests at a meagre average of 22 sums up Dale Steyn’s brilliant Test career. Steyn went past Proteas pace legend Shaun Pollock’s record of 421 wickets to become South Africa’s leading wicket taker in the longer format.
It may not be an overstatement that Dale Steyn has been South Africa's most successful bowler in Test cricket and goes down as arguably one of the greatest seamers of all time