Dale Steyn: World Cricket's Bowler of the Month, February 2014

Freddie WildeContributor IFebruary 27, 2014

PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 23: Dale Steyn of South Africa shows Brad Haddin of Australia that he bowled him out during day four of the Second Test match between South Africa and Australia at AXXESS St George's Cricket Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)
Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

There were no outstanding candidates for bowler of the month in February, with a number of individuals: Tim Southee, Mitchell Johnson and Dale Steyn all making cases but none of them irresistible. However, in a close run battle, Steyn's superb, match-winning spell in the second Test of South Africa's series against Australia sees him take the award. 

With Australia in pursuit of an improbable 448 for victory, the visitors got off to a superb start, with Dave Warner and Chris Rogers putting on 126 for the first wicket, and at tea at 144/1, the improbable was looking more probable. But then Dale Steyn happened. 

In one single session, led by a ferocious Steyn, the Proteas took nine wickets to win the Test by an amazing 231 runs. 

Steyn bowled with venom, pace and aggression that only he can. His mastery of reverse swinging the old-ball was crucial to his success.

His first wicket was the pivotal one of Aussie captain Michael Clarke, who he set up with an inswinger before finding the edge with an outswinger the following ball, which was outstandingly caught at slip by Faf du Plessis. 

The very next ball, a perfect inswinger, took the wicket of Steven Smith, before balls later Brad Haddin was accounted for by an even better delivery that pegged back middle stump. In a matter of moments, Australia's batting had been gutted. Steyn was rampant. A fourth wicket came when Ryan Harris was trapped lbw, and it was left to part-time spinner Dean Elgar to take the final wicket as the shadows lengthened to complete a stunning session.

Steyn only took four of the 10 wickets, but it was his skill, pressure and aggression that won the match for South Africa; it was a huge win in the context of the series and the rankings and it was led by one man.

In the first Test, despite being under the weather, he took four wickets in the first innings. But really he has won this month's award on the basis of one single performance. A performance that will take a while to forget.

Mitchell Johnson's outstanding first Test put him in contention; however, his disappointing return in the second Test saw him slip behind Steyn.

Tim Southee was pivotal in New Zealand's historic series victory over India, taking 11 wickets in the two-match series. However, the Kiwi's victory was more of a team effort than an individual one such as Steyn's.

Steyn's performance was all the more pertinent coming after Johnson's consistent domination of batsmen. Indeed, his position as the world's best bowler was even coming into question before Steyn charged back in Port Elizabeth; his mastery of the old-ball on a lifeless pitch clearly separates him from Australia's moustached menace.