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Facing Steyn a ton of pain, say Aussie batsmen

The last time Australia faced an all-time Test legend on home soil was four summers ago when South Africa’s Jacques Kallis and Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara visited in the 2012-13 season.

Skip ahead four years and another future immortal of the game is set to tour Australia for almost certainly the final time wearing the whites of Test cricket.

That man is Dale Steyn, who will go down in history as one of Test cricket’s finest fast bowlers.

After 84 Test matches for the Proteas, Steyn has claimed 416 victims at just fewer than five scalps per Test.

He’s claimed 26 five-wicket hauls – more than Walsh, Ambrose, Akram, Marshall, Younis and Lillee.

And no bowler, fast or slow, with 200 or more Test wickets matches Steyn’s lethal strike rate of 41.3 deliveries per dismissal.

But the numbers tell only one part of the Steyn story. What the figures don’t tell you is how, in his prime, the 33-year-old was the fastest bowler on the planet.

How he can swing the new ball late and away from the right-hander with surgical accuracy, and can bend the old ball back the other way when it starts to reverse.

How he transforms from a sweet gentleman off the field to a frenzied wild man with those piercing “crazy eyes” when he’s got a red, white or soon-to-be pink ball in his hand.

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And it’s why Steve Smith’s charges hold the utmost respect for Steyn for not only what he’s achieved but the damage he could still cause in his Australian swansong.

“When Dale comes one to bowl you’re always wary,” Smith told cricket.com.au cricket.com.au last month. “He’s always at you, he’s always at your stumps or at the top of off stump.

“He’s got this incredible ability to be able to just click a switch and go up 10kph and end up bowling 145-150kph, which is something that a lot of bowlers around the world don’t have the luxury of doing.

“He’s very smart in the way he bowls, (and) he bowls with beautiful shape, he’s got a nice seam and he’s going to be a challenge for us this summer.”

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