CAPE TOWN – Newlands was a hive of activity on Monday morning.
On the outfield, the Cape Cobras were playing a warm-up match to prepare for the CSA T20 Challenge, and the President’s Suite was getting ready to be unveiled in all its new glory.
But down at the nets behind the Kelvin Grove End was where the real interest was.
Despite both playing out of the Titans franchise, there were two of South Africa’s prized fast bowling assets, Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel, working their way back to full fitness under the watchful eye of Proteas legend Allan Donald.
Steyn, 34, has been out of the game for 12 months since breaking a bone in his shoulder last November.
Morkel, meanwhile, was ruled out of the majority of the recent Bangladesh series’ after sustaining a grade-two tear of the left abdominal oblique muscle.
Having worked with Donald for the majority of their Proteas’ careers during the 51-year-old’s time as the national bowling coach, the duo share a special bond with “White Lightning”.
Equally, Donald almost transforms into an excitable autograph hunter when he sees Steyn, in particular, approaching peak fitness.
“I stood here for 15 minutes watching him (Steyn) bowl. It is great to see him back. I can’t wait to see him play his first game for the Titans. I just told him now, he looks like an old sweet red wine that just never goes bad,” Donald told Independent Media on Monday.
“I am super excited to see him back, and I think South Africa can’t wait to see him back. I think he just wants to get back into that South African shirt as quickly as possible.
“We have India and Australia coming, and I am looking forward to having Dale Steyn back this summer.”
Steyn is set to make his much-awaited comeback for the Titans in the upcoming T20 Challenge.
He is unlikely to feature in the defending champions’ opener on Sunday in the double-header at SuperSport Park, but should finally get back on the park next week when the Titans play on Wednesday and Friday.
All of these matches, though, are primarily to gauge Steyn’s fitness as he works his way back to the Proteas Test side.
Steyn is just four wickets shy of equalling Shaun Pollock’s all-time national Test record (421 wickets), and would be lining up Zimbabwe in the inaugural day-night Test at St George’s Park on Boxing Day to rewrite the record books.
He has certainly put in the hard work over the last year, particularly in the gym, to be fully ready when he returns.
Steyn has certainly bulked up his upper body and looks ready to be unleashed.
“I was blown away by his physique. He is not monstrous, but it stands out massively. He looks strong. He has always been wiry and slim-line, but he has bulked up nicely,” Donald enthused.
“Dale looks amazingly fresh. He looks hungry, magnificent rhythm. He looks stronger. He looks like he has really rehabbed well.
“He has always been a magnificent athlete, but definitely the upper body… his chest and shoulders… they are conditioned.”
Meanwhile Morkel, who has been linked to numerous Kolpak moves in recent times, was gingerly taking the required fitness steps.
“I know from those rib injuries,” Donald said. “I had one for eight weeks as well, so he’s just loping up from five yards.
“He is just slowly going to build up, and from experience, I know doing those rehab exercises, you are basically trying to protect it all the time.
“It would be great to see Dale, Morné and Vern who is bowling out there in the middle again too, back in harness for the Proteas when India and Australia arrive.
“They are a world-class trio, plus KG (Kagiso Rabada), and you have the makings of a potent attack.”