TELFORD VICE in Johannesburg
DALE Steyn has ruled himself out of South Africa’s test series in England in July after failing to recover as efficiently as he had hoped from a shoulder injury.
The champion fast bowler has been sidelined since November, when he fractured his shoulder for the second time in 13 months during the first test of South Africa’s series in Australia.
He was booked off for up to six months. But he said on Saturday he would remain out of the equation beyond that deadline.
“My recovery is going well but it is taking a little longer than I expected it to,” Steyn said.
“I am able to a lot of things – running, hiking, gym work.
“But bowling is not one of them and I won’t be ready in time.”
South Africa found ways to win test series against Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand without Steyn.
But England in England will be their toughest assignment since their tour to India in 2015.
And Steyn was the deadliest bowler on either side on South Africa’s last tour to England in 2012, when he took 15 wickets.
He had been due to play in two matches for South Africa A in the UK in July to prove his readiness for the tests, but has since retrained his international comeback sights on the home test series against Bangladesh in October.
“One of the reasons for me playing with the A side was so that I could get some match fitness before the tests,” Steyn said.
“So before that Bangladesh series I will need to play a bit.”
That could happen during a limited overs tournament between the A teams of South Africa, India and Australia in the coming months – or on the county circuit.
“South Africa will be playing a test series in England and maybe at some ground down the road Dale Steyn will be playing for another team,” Steyn said with a smile.
He said even though his shoulder was free of pain his journey back to full fast bowling fitness was far from complete.
“I’m working on little muscles at the moment and when I start bowling again it will be off one pace,” Steyn said.
“Then two paces, three, four …
“We have to understand that fast bowling is not something normal people do so it’s going to take time.
“Normal people do things mostly below the shoulder line; it’s unusual to have something above the line except for things like bowling and tennis.
“I just have to be patient.”
And so say millions of other South Africans. Happily for them, their team are not short of quality pace bowling.
With Kagiso Rabada already established, Duanne Olivier on the up, Morne Morkel back from injury and Chris Morris blooming late, the stocks are high.
But Vernon Philander – another key to South Africa’s triumph in England in 2012 – needs to recover from a groin injury in time to lead the attack.
The chances of that happening seem promising, but with Steyn out ensuring Philander’s fitness must be South Africa’s prime focus.