When Dale Steyn ended the long wait to take over from Shaun Pollock as the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in Tests, it was fitting that the former Proteas captain was on air, commentating in the first Test against Pakistan on Wednesday.
The Boxing Day Test, being played at the Supersport Park in Centurion for the first time, witnessed history as Steyn got Fakhar Zaman to edge one to Dean Elgar in the slip cordon and react with evident joy. His teammates surrounded him, with Kagiso Rabada lifting the veteran pacer on his shoulders.
“He’s on top of the pile now, long live the king,” said Pollock on air, as Steyn responded with a salute towards the commentary box.
Pollock, who retired in 2008 had 421 Test wickets and Steyn needed just one more wicket in the first Test against Pakistan to hold first place on his own.
“I have a lot more wickets in me than just one more,” Steyn had said. “I haven’t saved myself just to take one more wicket than Polly. There is a bigger goal at the end of the day.”
The 35-year-old, playing in his 89th Test, seemed set to take the record when he played in two Tests in Sri Lanka earlier this year but could only take two wickets to tie with Pollock.
Pollock, who has reportedly been carrying around a bottle of champagne since Steyn’s 2016 tour of Australia in anticipation of the record, then took to Twitter to post a congratulatory message.
Here’s the full text (slightly edited for grammar and style):
“Heartfelt congratulations to Dale. He’s been a fantastic bowler for SA for so long. His performances both home and away have been remarkable in so many ways. The fact that he is the best Test fast bowler that SA has produced, doesn’t require my endorsement as his stats and record tell you that. He’s fully deserving of holding the record for most Test wickets and I hope that he goes on to take many more and continues winning games for the Proteas. His injuries of late have been in stark contrast to how well he has managed his body and fitness throughout his career and he has been a wonderful athlete.
“I have enjoyed so many attributes of Dale’s bowling through his international career... the ability to swing the ball at high speed upfront, reverse swing the ball with devastating effect, bowl with great control and within himself as well as being able to crank it up with high-speed hostile bowling on very flat surfaces at times – these have all been his hallmarks. He has spearheaded the attack for many years, giving the team a lift when they needed it most. More importantly he’s a great guy and deserves all the best. Well done, Dale.”