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Dale Steyn’s long, long record-watch

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It took Dale Steyn 10 years and 225 days – and 80 Test matches – to take 400 Test wickets. He was the third-fastest in the world to get there in match terms.

It has been three years since, and Steyn’s career has been punctuated with injuries. He has played only six Tests and added 19 wickets to his tally. He needs three scalps more to overtake Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s leading Test wicket-taker. It’s been a long wait and this is what it has looked like:

July 2015
Dale Steyn takes his 400th wicket in Bangladesh when he dismisses Tamim Iqbal on the opening morning of the second Test. Though Steyn takes two more wickets, there is no play possible on the remaining four days.

Wicket tally: 402

November 2015
Steyn goes wicket-less for only the second time in his career as India are bowled out for 201 in their first innings in Mohali. He is unable to take the field in the second innings after sustaining a groin injury, which rules him out of the rest of the series.

Wicket tally: 402

December 2015
A fit-again Steyn storms back at Kingsmead, dismisses Alastair Cook and Alex Hales inside the first seven overs and finishes England’s innings with 4 for 70. But in the second innings, with South Africa well behind the game, he manages just 3.5 overs before leaving the field with a shoulder problem that sidelines him for eight months.

Wicket tally: 406

August 2016
At the same ground he last appeared, Steyn takes two wickets against New Zealand in Durban in a low-key match where a wet outfield forces a draw under sunny skies. In the second match, Steyn shows shades of his best with eight wickets at Supersport Park to begin South Africa’s resurgence from No.7 on the rankings.

Wicket tally: 416

November 2016
A fired-up Steyn talks about cutting off the head of the snake as South Africa attempt a third successive series win in Australia. His warning is to Steven Smith and David Warner but he only ends up dismissing one of them, Warner, in Perth, just as things were getting away from South Africa. Steyn is so pumped up that he cranks up his pace and then goes down, clutching his right shoulder. The injury proves to be a rare break, the corricoid bone has snapped. Steyn has surgery, a pin inserted into his shoulder and spends 13 months in recovery, during which time he attempts several comebacks and tears a bicep and pec muscle.

Wicket tally: 417

January 2018
Against all odds and much retirement speculation, Steyn returns for a marquee series against India. He takes a wicket in his third over and bowls 17.3 in the first innings. Then he lands awkwardly in a foothold and a muscle in his heel separates from the bone. He spends another six months on the sidelines.

Wicket tally: 419

June 2018
Steyn signs for Hampshire in a bid to make an international return. In his first match, a fifty-over fixture, he concedes 80 runs in 10 overs. But he soon finds his rhythm and takes 5 for 66 in a County Championship game against Yorkshire and declares himself ready to try and break Pollock’s record, in Sri Lanka.



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Curtis Campher, Jonathan Garth the new faces as Ireland name 21-man squad for England ODIs

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Ireland have left Stuart Thompson and Shane Getkate out while naming an expanded 21-man squad for a three-match ODI series against England this month, while David Delany is missing the trip as precaution following an injury.

Curtis Campher, the South Africa-born allrounder who was awarded an emerging contract earlier this year, has been included in a senior squad for the first time after having represented Ireland A against Namibia in February, while there is another new face in legspinner Jonathan Garth – whose sister Kim quit Irish cricket to take up a contract with Cricket Victoria last month.

Ireland will arrive in Southampton on a charter flight from Dublin on July 18, and play an intra-squad warm-up match and a fixture against England Lions before the group is separated into a 14-man squad and seven reserves. They will play three ODIs – the first game in the new ODI Super League – at the Ageas Bowl, before returning to Dublin on August 5.

“The selectors were delighted to have been able to meet once more to select a squad for international action. We have lost so much cricket this year, so to have a series – let alone such a major series as this – to look forward to is a great relief for all,” Andrew White, the chair of national men’s selectors, said. “This lack of on-field action since March – and the short lead-in programme to the ODI series – influenced our thinking on the broader squad. However, the unique circumstances of the situation has allowed us to involve more players than we would normally bring on such a tour.”

White also said that some players had been selected to “help our batters prepare for the type of opposition we’ll be facing”, which seemed like a nod to Garth’s inclusion. He is the only legspinner in the wider party, while England have named two in their 24-man training group in Adil Rashid and Matt Parkinson.

“While a number of players like Stuart Thompson and Shane Getkate are unfortunate to not to be travelling, the experience that will be gained on this trip by a number of the younger players will be invaluable in their development”

Andrew White

“The form shown by several players in the Caribbean in January, Wolves tour in February and the Afghan series in March really bolstered their case for selection,” White said. “We’re delighted that our top wicket-taker in 2019, Mark Adair, returns after recovering from ankle surgery, and feel we have the right squad balance for these important fixtures – keeping in mind that they are World Cup qualifiers.”

Thompson and Getkate’s exclusions might come as a surprise, not least given that both have central contracts for 2020-21 and that both have been regulars in white-ball squads in recent years.

“While a number of players like Stuart Thompson and Shane Getkate are unfortunate to not to be travelling, the experience that will be gained on this trip by a number of the younger players will be invaluable in their development,” White said. “Additionally, David Delany was not considered for selection this time. As a result of his previous surgery, and the subsequent extended lockdown period, we were not fully confident that he has had the time to complete the necessary amount of preparation in order to safely play in these matches.”

As well as the task at hand, several Ireland players will hope that strong performances in this series can provide them with a springboard towards contracts for the T20 Blast. Paul Stirling’s overseas deal at Northants is one of only a handful yet to be cancelled in the competition, and ESPNcricinfo understands that some names in this squad have been floated to counties in recent weeks as possible options to replace their bigger overseas names.



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Trinidad & Tobago gets government nod to host CPL 2020

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The 2020 CPL will take place in Trinidad & Tobago between August 18 and September 10, after the organisers got the final nod from the local government. A total of 33 matches including two semifinals and a final will be played behind closer doors across two stadiums.

As per the agreement between the CPL and the T&T government, all the participants – squads and team management of the six franchises, the organisers and the rest of the crews – will need to self-isolate for two weeks before they board their flights, and for two weeks upon arrival in T&T. All the participants will be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival followed by two more tests – a week and two weeks after arrival.

All six teams will stay in the same hotel in Trinidad. Even within that bio-secure bubble, it is understood that each team will be broken up into mini clusters. In case anyone from one of the clusters tests positive before or during the tournament, that cluster will have to self-isolate.

The CPL is set to be the first time people from outside of T&T are allowed into the country since the closure of its borders in late March. The Caribbean has been relatively unaffected during the Covid-19 pandemic, with T&T only recording 133 positive tests and eight deaths until July 9, according to data released by its health ministry. As a precaution, the T&T government has closed borders even to other countries in the Caribbean and its own citizens who are overseas.



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Sachin Tendulkar lauds James Anderson’s ‘reverse’ reverse swing

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Fast bowlers are widely known to use three different methods to get the ball to swerve through the air: conventional swing, contrast swing, reverse swing. James Anderson, however, can lay claim to a fourth method: reverse reverse swing.

What’s that?

According to no less an authority than Sachin Tendulkar, who faced him in 14 Test matches and was dismissed by him a record nine times, Anderson has a way of confounding batsmen with his wrist position while delivering the outswinger with the reverse-swinging ball.

The conventionally swinging ball swings towards the rough side, and the reverse-swinging ball towards the shiny side. The ball’s orientation for the conventional inswinger, therefore, is the same as the one for the reverse outswinger. The two deliveries usually involve different wrist positions, but Anderson, Tendulkar noted in a chat with Brian Lara on the 100MB app, had the ability to deliver a reverse outswinger with the wrist position of a conventional inswinger.

“With reverse swing, Jimmy Anderson was possibly the first bowler who bowled reverse swing also reverse,” he said. “What I experienced, over a period of time, [is] that he would hold the ball as if he was bowling [a reverse] outswinger, but [at] the release point, he would try and bring the ball back in, and [a] number of batters would look at the wrist position, and what he has actually done, he’s shown you that he’s bowling inswing, but the imbalance between both sides of the ball would take the ball away from you.

“What he has done is, he’s got you to commit to play, for an [inswinger], and the ball, after covering almost three-fourths of the length of the pitch, starts leaving you. But you had already committed [to play], because you’ve seen that inswing position, and that is something which was new to me. Nobody had done that.

“Now, [a] number of guys, you see their shine, and what they’re trying to do – I spotted even Stuart Broad trying to do that at some stage, but Anderson started this [a] long time ago. So I rate him very very highly. One of the best exponents of reverse swing.”

One of Anderson’s best spells in reverse-swinging conditions came in Kolkata in 2012, when he took three wickets in each innings to help England take a 2-1 series lead. Anderson had Tendulkar caught behind for 76 in the first innings with a reverse outswinger, but it’s unclear whether that ball was a reverse-reverse outswinger.

Nonetheless, if other bowlers can master Anderson’s seeming ability to deliver reverse reverse swing, it gives batsmen one more thing to worry about, particularly when the ball is at that stage of its lifespan when it’s transitioning from swinging conventionally to reversing.





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