Steyn the greatest, says Donald

Watch, if you can stomach it, YouTube footage of Allan Donald taking the new ball during Australia's first innings in the second Test against South Africa at a benign SCG in 1998.

Well, it was supposed to be benign for fast bowlers.

Mark Waugh - nearing a Test ton - and his brother, Steve, sniffing around another half-century, would have been forgiven for thinking as much as Australia cruised to 3-211 in reply to the Proteas' 287 first-innings dig.

What happens next brings tears to a grown man's eyes.

The SCG deck suddenly comes alive as Donald peppers the Waugh brothers over and again with the new Kookaburra.

Ribs, kidneys, back, thighs - nothing is safe as an inspired Donald lets rip on what were supposed to be two set batsmen.

Even the unflappable Steve Waugh appears disturbed by the onslaught unleashed by the man justifiably referred to as "White Lightning".

Donald admits this was him near his prime.

In the end, Donald finished with 3-81 off 30.4 overs and Australia went on to win by an innings and 21 runs.

Yet that spell remains one of Test cricket's most brutal.

Donald's a hard act to follow in South African cricket.

However, Donald - who took 330 Test wickets at 22.25 - has warned we ain't seen nothing yet.

Donald may have the cool nickname, but the first South African to notch 300 Test wickets has provided Dale Steyn, the Proteas' spearhead and world No.1 bowler, with the best moniker yet ahead of their three-match series against Australia starting at the Gabba on Friday - "the greatest".

"Honestly, and I am being 100 per cent, I think he is the greatest bowler for South Africa, if not the best ever, I have seen," Donald said.

"Not only is he an athlete but he is a competitor. He has got a case of white-line fever that I have never seen before.

"He has got everything you wish for in a fast bowler."

Donald would have drooled at the prospect of being unleashed on the juicy Gabba deck that looks set to be on offer in the Test series opener in Brisbane.

Especially after being forced to make do with pitches that appeared prepared for a certain successful Australian leg-spinner during his trips Down Under.

However, Donald - now the South African bowling coach - reckons watching Steyn let rip in the Proteas' first Test in Brisbane since 1963 may yet make up for the frustration.

"What makes him such a magnificent bowler is the length he bowls," Donald said of Steyn.

"He's difficult to get at, he swings it at 148 to 150km/h, and he's aggressive.

"That makes him a huge threat to any side, and he keeps coming all day.

"He never seems to be bowling within himself - what more can you ask for?"

To date, Steyn has nabbed 287 wickets at 23.50 - and Donald expected that tally to rise considerably.

Especially after Australian and ex-Proteas coach Mickey Arthur inexplicably had a crack at Steyn's strike rate - or lack thereof - against left-handers when confirming southpaw Rob Quiney's Test debut for Brisbane.

For the record, 71 per cent of Steyn's Test victims have been right-handed.

But it seems Steyn is keen to rectify that stat starting at Brisbane following Arthur's rare gaffe.

"Let's just say I don't think I have to go to Dale and tell him 'Listen are you worried about bowling to left-handers?"' Donald laughed.

"Dale has had great success against left-handers in the past - this will fire him up even more.

"The thing is he is fiery on the field but quite placid off it. He is a purring cat all day.

"On the field he is a different animal."

As scary as Steyn is, Donald baulked when asked the big question.

Who is fastest - present day Steyn or late 1990s Donald?

"Jeepers, I find that very hard to answer," Donald said.

"I really don't know. I think around 1998 I was bowling at my quickest at about 150km/h.

"Whether I can say I was quicker than Dale I am not even going to go there.

"It's not for me to call that."

When the dust settles on the battle for Test cricket's No.1 ranking this summer, we may be able to draw our own conclusions.