Last night (5th August 2019) Dale Steyn announced his retirement from Test cricket.
The decision came after assessing his injuries, which has been quite frequent in recent times. It has not allowed him to play entire series. Hence he decided to unburden his body from playing longest format. Steyn turly is one of the all-time greats of cricket!.
He was the master of swing and seam, either with new or old ball.
I realized how good he was when South Africa toured India in February 2010. It was magical! He would make the ball talk with threatening pace and bounce. On unfamiliar condition Steyn had the ability to move the ball both ways, either with new ball or older ball.
In 2010 I had written a blogpost “<Crazy Steyn and Kid Morkel> “ along with a video during that period, but for some reason couldn’t find that post online.
Luckily I had that file. A assembled video clips dismissals by Steyn and Morkel.
I coined the video as “Crazy…..…..because of the swing and seam movement they generated. The ball was doing crazy thing, and Steyn had total control over it!.
Here is excerpts from that post along with a video.
South Africa tour of India 2010
Has South Africans found a new way to reverse swing the ball ?
Worn & shredded leather leading to Negative swing…or is it the new method of reverse swing !!
A-A ball is made of four pieces, its illegal to raise the seam, but stitching and the seam are different parts of the ball, & cleaning or raising the stitching has nothing to do with the seam. The non-seam side which is always smooth is also the invisible side, hence when the non-seam or the secondary seam is altered there is sudden collapse in movement & speed. Hence seam is only one of the numerous possible areas capable of affecting air flow around the ball. Low seam angles, natural wear, worn or dirty stitching, the orientation of the minor seam to the wind, and almost invisible variations in the surface texture of new ball can all lead to large and unexpected changes in swing.
B-There is extra turbulence resulting from worn leather, which hangs on to the ball a little longer, enabling the ball to divert late. The worn shredded ball is still capable of generating great swing as much as the brand new ball, & its negative swing indicates extreme instability with sudden changes, hence going the other way becomes the rule rather than exception……
C……….Assuming that the ball follows a smooth parabolic path, most of the deviation occurs in the last 30 % of the flight, & if the speed of the ball is 130k plus, then the time in air for 19 yards(measured from bowler’s hand to the bat) is 0.48 seconds.
D-At Nagpur, South Africans mostly bowled(Steyn in particular) from 22 to 24 yards (behind the crease) with average speed not going beyond 82 (after 25 overs), and delaying the release of the ball !! →…all this allows the ball to stay in air for longer time, so that it can become more unpredictable in its final path.
E–“Crazy Steyn” & “Kid Morkel” are the new cowboys for South Africa, & in the last 3 Tests(6 inn) together have picked 64.40 % wickets , out of which 47 % were top order batsmen, & 34 % of them got out inside 10 run !!!
Factors Ignored !
A-3rd umpire failed to inform the ground umpire about the condition of the ball, – then, ground umpire forgot to use the scissors or clippers !
B -Was it hard for batsmen and umpires to notice the change in ball condition. It became very obvious after India went past 100 runs. The ball looked like a character from Pirates of the Caribbean !
C- Curving flight after pitching is one of the most intriguing sights revealed to TV viewers. This is swerve factor or irregular swing factor , but change of seam angle as the stitching catches the ground unevenly on one side of the contact area is another factor, which is not easy to observe….
D………Was the ball been less shined by the South Africans, i.e only bowlers, & no fielders allowed to shine the ball ?.
E- If bowlers use cross-seamed consistently, especially with brand new ball, then the probability of the ball to wear off is very high !
F- Was the ball changed, if so, then even the replacement ball looked tattered!
G-Indian bowlers went on to bowl 160 +overs in one innings. (2 brand new balls used), and both looked neat and tidy at the end of 80th over !