Proteas coach Ottis Gibson feels that there is “no real need to force the issue” with Dale Steyn ahead of the World Cup showdown against England on Thursday.
Gibson announced on Tuesday in London that Steyn has not recovered from his shoulder injury in time to be considered for the tournament opener at The Oval.
The 35-year-old Steyn flew home early from the IPL last month, and did not take part in the two warm-up games against Sri Lanka and the West Indies over the weekend.
So, while it was not a major surprise that he sits out the England clash, Gibson insisted that his pace spearhead is nearly fit to turn his arm over.
“Dale is not quite ready yet. He is not far away but he is not ready yet, we think with a six-week tournament there is no real need to force the issue so he won’t be available,” Gibson said.
“We know he is close and is getting closer every day. We will give him as much time as he needs to get ready. I am trying to give a date, but we are hoping if not Sunday, then certainly by India (next Wednesday).”
Sunday’s encounter sees the South Africans taking on Bangladesh, also at The Oval, before they face one of the tournament favourites, India, at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.
So, while Steyn could play a role in one of those matches, Gibson has to find a replacement against England, and he suggested one of the all-rounders will fill the slot.
“We looked at the pitch today and it had a tinge of green on it, and I suspect over the next two days it will change, so at the moment, we have a few options,” Gibson said.
“We have a few all-rounders in (Chris) Morris, (Andile) Phehlukwayo and (Dwaine) Pretorius, so one of them could come into the equation.”
Phehlukwayo was probably in line to play anyway, so the choice is set to be between Pretorius and Morris.
The latter is seen as a Lance Klusener-type big hitter in some circles, with the likes of former captains Graeme Smith and Shaun Pollock voicing their support for him in recent days.
But his inconsistent bowling has been the main reason why he last played an ODI in February 2018, before returning in the unofficial international against Sri Lanka last week.
Good news on the injury front is that both Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi have been cleared to play, with Gibson stating that the rest of the squad are available for selection.@ashfakmohamed