Dale Steyn during a Proteas training session. Photo: Reuters/Dinuka Lyanawatte

CAPE TOWN – Dale Steyn, and in particular his right shoulder, once again has the country on tenterhooks.

Just over a month before the start of the World Cup - which sees South Africa face England at The Oval in the tournament opener - Steyn will be consulting a shoulder specialist to determine the exact nature of the discomfort he felt following an appearance for Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.

Steyn is due back in the country today.

“Dale felt discomfort after playing his second match at the tournament. Upon assessment and subsequent investigations, a flare-up of his right shoulder was confirmed,” the national team’s manager Mohammed Moosajee said in a statement yesterday.

“With the World Cup around the corner, it is our priority to get him back to full fitness before the squad departs on May 19. He will consult with a shoulder specialist upon his return and a recovery plan will be put in place.”

Steyn’s right shoulder kept him out of action for more than a year when he injured it while bowling in the first Test of the series against Australia in 2016. Many months of painful rehab followed and he returned to the Proteas team in Sri Lanka last year and played a full part in the 2018/19 season.

He was involved in all five Tests, played nine ODIs and two T20 Internationals, while he also turned out for the Titans in the semi-final and final of the Momentum Cup, helping the franchise to victory in that competition.

He’s bowling gradually improved over the course of a season in which he overtook Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in Tests, and his shape and pace were impressive features in the two matches he played for the Titans.

That is what led Bangalore to sign him up for the IPL, after he’d been overlooked in the auction for that tournament. Steyn bowled superbly in both matches for Bangalore, claiming 2/40 against Kolkata and then 2/29 against Chennai.

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Steyn is seen as a vital part of South Africa’s World Cup plans which centre around their four primary wicket-taking bowlers; Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada. Ngidi is making his way back to full fitness following a sidestrain and is expected to bowl a few overs for an SA Academy side against a touring Afghanistan Academy team. Anrich Nortje, will do the same as he completes his rehabilitation after a shoulder injury.

The national selectors are allowed to make changes to the 15-man squad, which was named a week ago, up until the May 23.

They will have a training camp starting on May 12 and leaves for England a week later.

Cricket Reporter