TELFORD VICE, Perth
DALE Steyn has been ruled out of the rest of South Africa’s test series in Australia with a fractured shoulder and will return home after the current match at the WACA, probably to undergo surgery.
His recovery and rehabilitation could keep him out of action for six months, which would rule him out of South Africa’s home series against Sri Lanka and their tour to New Zealand.
Theoretically he could be fit for the tour to England, which starts on May 19 next year and will the Champions Trophy.
The test series against England starts on July 6, and Steyn will have his eyes on the prize of breaking Shaun Pollock’s record for the most wickets taken by a South African in the format.
Steyn is five away from surpassing Pollock’s total of 421.
Having clutched his shoulder while bowling early in the second hour at the WACA on Friday, Steyn sank to his haunches and left the field after consulting with team physiotherapist Brandon Jackson.
Minutes later Steyn was seen in the dressingroom with his shoulder – the same one he broke in December during the series against England – heavily strapped.
During the tea interval he was seen congratulating teammates for dismissing Australia by slapping them on the back – but only with his left hand. He held his right arm at an awkward angle.
Before stumps a Cricket South Africa release quoted team manager Mohammed Moosajee as saying, “(Steyn) was taken to the hospital for preliminary scans which confirmed a new fracture of the bone in the shoulder joint.
“He will take no further part in the match (he will bat if absolutely necessary) and the series, and will return to South Africa to see a shoulder specialist who will advise on an appropriate plan of action.
“An injury of this nature is rare and will in all likelihood require surgery but that will only be confirmed once we receive an opinion from the specialist.”
After stumps Moosajee said Steyn’s fresh fracture was not a consequence of the non-surgical treatment he received the first time he hurt his shoulder.
“Scans showed complete healing of the boney region,” Moosajee said.
“During this current tour he experienced some discomfort in the front area of the shoulder.
“When we were in Adelaide (to play two tour matches in the last two weeks of October) we had an ultrasound done – we thought it might be one of the ligaments in the area.
“All those scans came back absolutely normal.
“Today while he was bowling he explained that he heard something thud or pop.
“The estimated return date, we’ll have to just wait and see. The literature talks about six months but we don’t know.”
Steyn’s sudden removal from the attack could have severely impacted on South Africa’s hopes of dismissing an Australian team who resumed on Friday on 105 without loss.
But Vernon Philander and debutant left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj stepped into the breach to share seven wickets as the home side crashed to 244 all out with all 10 wickets falling for 86 runs.
“Dale’s been the leader of this attack for a very long time and it’s sad to see him go down like that,” Philander, who took 4/56, said.
“We had a job and that was to get the Aussies out as cheaply as possible, and it was a job well done by the rest of the bowlers.
“It’s a responsibility that will be well taken by the rest of the team and the squad. We want to win this game for Dale as well.
“It’s about trying to find the best combinations bowling in the second innings.”
With Steyn out South Africa’s seam attack at the WACA has been reduced to Philander and Kagiso Rabada.
“There’s a lot of responsibility on myself and ‘KG’ (Rabada) now,” Philander said.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we can skittle them again.”
Steyn’s fate even elicited empathy from the other side of the dressingroom divide.
“I’m disappointed for Dale,” hard-nosed Australian opening batsman David Warner said.
“I know how pumped he would have been to play a big role.
“I hope he can get back on the park and play the competitive cricket that we’ve seen him play.”
No decision has been made on whether a replacement for Steyn will be summoned, but Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott are in South Africa’s squad.