Dale Steyn’s return to cricket has been extended after the seamer ruled himself out of the domestic game between Titans and Dolphins. As a result, Steyn is unlikely to feature in the two Test series against Bangladesh. The South African seamer has decided that the load of a four-day match is too much for someone who hasn’t featured since November.
“I’ve decided not to play right now. I’m bowling fine but I haven’t hit the full workload I’d need to handle four-day cricket or a Test so I decided it was best not to play,” Steyn was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo on Thursday.
Steyn is reluctant to rush himself back into action in the longer format of the game which could very well result in a relapse and extend his absence from the field even further. In Perth, he broke the bone in his shoulder that sidelined him. “Playing the four-day game would have given me a chance for selection in the Tests but I don’t want to put myself or the team in a position where I pull up again. Some shorter cricket might be the better answer for a reintroduction.”
Before the ODI series against Bangladesh, the only possible option for Steyn to get some much needed playing time is to compete in domestic competition at a lower level. However, the 34-year-old doesn’t mind that as an alternative. “I might just play some club stuff in Pretoria or Cape Town. It doesn’t really matter to me at what level it is, I just need some cricket and I thought going from nothing to possibly bowling 30+ overs was a bit of a risk. It sucks, but I want to play for a few more years, not just till then end of October.
“It’s been a frustrating time, but I want to play for a few more years and I’m confident I will. The longer stuff is too much right now, so we wait for possibly the white ball to come around.”
Even if Steyn misses out on the shorter games against Bangladesh, the inaugural Global T20 League remains a strong possibility of a comeback. He has been snapped up by Cape Town Knight Riders who are coached by Jacques Kallis and is confident of making use of Steyn throughout the tournament.
“Having chosen him for the Knight Riders, I’ve kept a close eye on him. I was under a little bit of pressure from the owners asking ‘Are you sure?’ He’s busy bowling seven overs a day at the moment, and doesn’t want to go into a four day game upfront. He’s worried about bowling 18 overs in a day, so I think he just wants to ease into it a little bit more and make sure he’s 100% fit,” Kallis said, at an event in Johannesburg earlier in the week.
“It’s a very mature decision he’s made and I think he will still have a massive impact this season. When he’s fully fit he’s as dangerous as any bowler in the world and he will be 100% at some stage. I know he’s as hungry as ever, he’s hungry to achieve and he will normally always find a way to do that.”
In Steyn’s absence, South Africa’s pace options hinge on Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander and Chris Morris and Duanne Olivier come in as reserve options. The Test squad will be picked after the opening round of matches on Friday.