Dale Steyn could return to action in November. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Dale Steyn could return to action in November. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Vernon Philander has recovered from a back problem. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Vernon Philander has recovered from a back problem. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Kagiso Rabada is currently being rested by the Proteas. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Kagiso Rabada is currently being rested by the Proteas. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Morne Morkel suffered an injury during the series against Bangladesh. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix
Morne Morkel suffered an injury during the series against Bangladesh. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Remember when Kagiso Rabada burst onto the international scene a couple of years ago and all that chatter started up about a Proteas "Fearsome Foursome" - Rabada, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn all in the same XI?

It never happened of course. While Rabada has been an ever present since making his Test debut in India in November 2015, the others have battled a variety of ailments.

Philander - ankles and back, Morkel - back and now an abdominal muscle tear - and Steyn - a shoulder.

This season though, it appears, possibly, just maybe, that they all might be fit in time for the first Test against India at Newlands starting on January 5. With all due respect to Zimbabwe, this year’s Boxing Day Test doesn’t really excite the senses.

Let's leave aside for a second that tactics at Newlands may deem four seamers unnecessary - although who would dismiss four seamers of that quality?

It would make for quite a sight. And not one that would please the Indian batsmen, who a few months back - when the Proteas were struggling in England - may have reckoned on this being their best opportunity to help their team win a series in South Africa.

The last year was a worrying one for South Africa’s quicks. Not only were there the injuries to Steyn, Morkel, Chris Morris and Lungi Ngidi; but then the loss of Hardus Viljoen and Kyle Abbott to Kolpak contracts, and Marchant de Lange to a three-year county deal with Glamorgan left quick bowling stocks in South Africa very thin indeed.

That though is starting to change. Duanne Olivier has shown himself to be an able back-up this year, producing some fine performances in Manchester and Bloemfontein.

Meanwhile, Morris is on the way back to full fitness, while Ngidi’s performance in the Sunfoil Series match between the Highveld Lions and the Titans this week at the Wanderers has been very special.

He had very good rhythm, bowled with good pace, and his lines were sufficiently disciplined to build pressure which led to him picking up nine wickets.

So that’s Steyn, Morkel, Rabada, Philander, Morris, Olivier, Ngidi all fit and firing. When Ottis Gibson arrived a month ago he expressed concern about the number of bowlers sidelined with injury - now he’ll have worries about who to leave out. It’s a problem he’ll be much happier to have.

Given their ages - Steyn is 34, Morkel 33 and Philander 32 - this could be the last season they will all have the chance to line up alongside Rabada. This could be it, for one season and possibly two series only, four of the greatest SA quick bowlers, in the same team at the same time.

In a summer so far dominated by Cricket South Africa’s administrative incompetence, that’s the kind of distraction the federation could do with - and it’s a line-up fans can finally enjoy rather than just dream about.

The Star

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