Steyn could face uphill fitness battle

MENACE: Proteas' paceman Dale Steyn.
MENACE: Proteas' paceman Dale Steyn.
Image: Getty Images

Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the rest of South Africa’s test series against India and the selectors might need to gamble on his match fitness if he is to face Australia.

Steyn ripped a ligament off the heel of his left foot by stepping awkwardly into a foothole while bowling against the Indians at Newlands on Saturday.

The fast bowler has since seen a specialist‚ and on Monday team management said‚ “He is unable to do much at the moment so he will be reassessed in four to six weeks.

“He will follow a management and rehab plan once he is out of the moon boot but he is definitely out of the India series.”

Seven weeks and five days will have passed between Steyn’s injury and when the first test against Australia starts at Kingsmead on March 1.

Given efficient recovery and rehabilitation‚ something he has all too much experience of having spent much of the 13 months before the Newlands test doing just that after fracturing a shoulder at the WACA in November 2016‚ he should be good to go.

But opportunities to prove his readiness for the longest format could be limited.

If the doctors give Steyn the green light after four weeks he will be able to play in two first-class matches for the Titans‚ who will be back in whites on February 8.

If he is only back after six weeks he will miss both of those chances.

Steyn could also play in provincial three-day first-class games for the Easterns and Titans‚ which start on February 8 and 22.

But he seems to have the support of the selectors‚ who named Steyn in the squad to play Zimbabwe at St George’s Park last month despite him at that point not having played any cricket in whites since his shoulder injury — although he had by then bowled 18 T20 overs for the Titans.

Besides his record and stature‚ Steyn was selected for the India series on the strength of the dozen overs he bowled in a tour match against the Zimbabweans in Paarl.

He would‚ no doubt‚ relish the challenge of bowling to the Australians — not least because he needs three more wickets to surpass Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s leading test wicket-taker.

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