Injuries to Steyn, Philander and Morkel has meant that the quartet has never been able to take the field together for the Proteas. Until now that is. Steyn has been out of action with a long term shoulder injury and also missed the recent four day test against Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth with a viral infection. In his absence Rabada has been the leader of the attack with Morkel, Philander, Duanne Olivier, Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris all chipping in with decent performances at various times. Also, Keshav Maharaj has made a fine start to his test career by taking 56 wickets in his first 14 tests with his left arm orthodox spin which has helped soften the blow of Steyn’s long term absence.
Unfortunately for India, all four members of the quartet has been fired up and have made life unpleasant for the visiting batsmen. du Plessis has been in the very fortunate position of being able to call on anyone of the four at any time with each of them posing a different threat to Virat Kohli and co.
Steyn has been quick and hungry with his trademark away swingers and is also closing in on Shaun Pollock’s all time record of 421 wickets in 108 test. At the time of writing Steyn was on 419 scalps but in considerbaly less matches than the former Proteas captain. Add to that the skill, guile and seam movement of Philander, the pace and bounce of Morkel and the raw pace and exhuberance of youth of Rabada and you have a very lethal fast bowling attack.
This pace attack makes one immediately want to compare them with the great West Indian trio of the 70’s and 80’s of Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner and Andy Roberts. However, with Steyn (34), Philander (32) and Morkel (33) nearing the end of their careers, I am inclined to want to see all four of them fit and hungry to perform for the next few years before comparing them to that famous West Indian trio.
In the meantime, Gibson and du Plessis will just be hoping that they can get through this series unscathed and continue to trouble the Indian batsmen…