South Africa's ace pacer Dale Steyn, who has picked up a heel injury during the first Test against India in early January, is unlikely to regain his full fitness ahead of the third Tests against Australia, scheduled to start on March 22 at Newlands, Cape Town.
The veteran speedster had sustained a tissue damage on his left heel during the second day’s play against India at Newlands which ruled him out of action for the remainder of the Test series and the subsequent limited-overs series.
Updating on Steyn’s injury, former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith said the champion quick is targeting the fourth Test in Johannesburg for his return to international cricket.
“I think Dale Steyn is still a little bit behind in his recovery,” Smith told cricket.com.au in Cape Town on Wednesday.
“I spoke to him this morning actually. He says he’s bowling well but it’s taking him a bit of time to recover after spells so I think he’s targeting that fourth Test to be available. Whether they pick him or not that’s another thing,” he added.
With Kagiso Rabada suspended for the final two Tests of the series for his inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with Australia captain Steve Smith during the during the first day’s play at St George's Park, Graeme Smith is expecting the lanky paceman Morne Morkel to be in the playing XI.
Morkel had looked out of sorts in the first Test at Durban that the hosts lost by 118 runs. The towering quick had managed to claim only 3 wickets in the match by conceding 112 runs. Considering the significance of the second Test, South African think tank preferred young paceman Lungi Ngidi ahead of Morkel in the starting XI.
“I think it would be a natural thing for Morne Morkel to come in. For him, close to 300 Test wickets, he’s an experienced guy, (playing his) last series. You’d want him make a big impact if he does get that opportunity,” he added.
Rabada was the hero for South Africa in their series-leveling 6-wicket victory at Port Elizabeth. The 22-year-old had taken 11-wicket haul in the match and destroyed the Australian batting line-up with his menacing reverse-swing.
“There is experience there behind Rabada, but I just think Rabada has just been that level above everybody else and that’s why he’s such a big loss,” Smith opined.
Steyn, who has taken 419 Test wickets for South Africa in 86 matches, is just two wickets away from becoming the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket for his country. Even though Steyn is expected to regain his full fitness for the final Test, scheduled to start on March 30 in Johannesburg, Smith says he would be surprised if the team management picked the veteran pacer.
“If South Africa have a bowling attack that’s doing well and everyone’s fit, I would be surprised if they consider him.
“If someone gets injured or loses form or there’s a question mark then I certainly think he’ll come into the reckoning,” Graeme Smith concluded.