Dale Steyn's unrelenting brilliance on cricket's international stage just continues to amaze, with the South African completing yet another incredibly impressive month over the course of November.
Although the previous 30 days haven't seen the lethal right-armer in the Test arena, Steyn's form in the limited-overs formats has been nothing short of outstanding. In fact, his statistics in November are staggering.
In four ODI's across two series against Pakistan, the 30-year-old has 15 wickets at an absurd average of 8.53. That those wickets have come at a strike rate of 14.8, with an economy rate of just 3.46, almost beggars belief.
Across a further four Twenty20 matches, the world's No. 1 bowler has been just as destructive, capturing seven wickets at an average of 11, while conceding less than six runs per over in the most batsmen-friendly format of them all.
However, South Africa's spearhead has faced some stiff competition for Bowler of the Month honours in November.
India's Mohammed Shami was mightily impressive in taking nine wickets on Test debut against the West Indies in Kolkata, destroying the visitors in the second innings as the home side romped to an innings and 51-run victory.
Thousands of miles east, Australia's Mitchell Johnson also put forward a compelling case with his brutal tearing apart of England in the first Ashes Test at the Gabba in Brisbane. The left-armer's exhibition of English destruction was perhaps the most compelling performance in world cricket this year.
Yet, in comparison with sustained brilliance, breathtaking one-off performances aren't quite enough to tip this award away from Steyn, the man who continues to reign supreme as the world's most polished performer with the ball.
November Performance Summary:
|Figures||Opponent||Match Type||Venue||Match Date|
|1/31||Pakistan||ODI||Abu Dhabi||Nov. 6|
|5/25||Pakistan||ODI||Abu Dhabi||Nov. 8|
|2/29||Pakistan||Twenty20||Cape Town||Nov. 22|
|3/33||Pakistan||ODI||Cape Town||Nov. 24|
|6/39||Pakistan||ODI||Port Elizabeth||Nov. 27|
While all of Steyn's performances in November have been vastly impressive, his 6/39 in South Africa's second ODI at home to Pakistan was undoubtedly his finest.
Consistently touching—and sometimes exceeding—90 mph, the South African spearhead tore through the visitors' lineup, using his customary and lethal out-swinging deliveries to full effect.
His first wicket of Nasir Jamshed was spectacular, curling in from outside the left-hander's off stump to smash it out of the ground. That was followed by a rapid, back-of-a-length delivery that saw Mohammad Hafeez overcome by pace as he edged behind to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
The right-armer followed up those top-order scalps by cutting through the Pakistani tail, impressively outworking the tourists to deservedly finish with a six-wicket haul.
Although his teammates weren't able to chase down Pakistan's total with the bat—falling an agonising one run short—Steyn's performance was an indication that the world's premier quick bowler is gearing up for the impending visit by a confident Indian outfit.
Outlook For December:
|Opponent||Match Type||Venue||Match Dates|
|India||Test||Johannesburg||Dec. 18 - 22|
|India||Test||Durban||Dec. 26 - 30|
Now that South Africa have disposed of an inferior Pakistan outfit, the world's best Test side can prepare to lock horns with the world's No. 1-ranked ODI side.
Although India's tour of South Africa is disappointingly shorter than originally planned, the prospect of witnessing an emerging, youthful Indian team in unfamiliar surrounds against Steyn and his teammates is a tantalising prospect.
Certainly, India's brigade of promising batsmen—most notably Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan—have both the skill and the exuberance to test Steyn's incisive bowling. However, one gets the sense the lethal seamer will relish the opportunity to repel India's threat, particularly given the distinctly un-Indian conditions found in South Africa.
While Johnson will slug it out against England in Australia, Steyn will be keen to reassert his dominance on the rest of the cricketing world.