Dale Steyn, who was sidelined after the first Test against India, is struggling to play a part in the Test series against Australia.
The quick bowler, who made his comeback after a lengthy rehabilitation period for a shoulder problem, injured his heel in the Test at Newlands, and according to the team manager Mohammed Moosajee, may be fit only for the Third Test against Australia in late March.
The delay could scupper his ambition to become South Africa’s most prolific bowler. He has 419 wickets and is only three away from overtaking Shaun Pollock.
It is likely he will have to play a first-class game to prove his fitness again before he is selected for what is expected to be a tough battle of quick bowling.
There is continuing doubt, too, over the fitness of captain Faf du Plessis and middle-order batsman Temba Bavuma, both of whom sustained broken fingers in matches against India.
On the good-news side, AB de Villiers (knee) and Quinton de Kock (wrist) are expected to be fit for the start of the four-match series which starts in Durban on 1 March.
‘We are sure AB and Quinton will be ready for the first Test and we are hopeful Faf will be,’ Moosajee told ESPNCricinfo. ‘We knew he would require four to six weeks’ recovery time, which takes us, at the earliest, to the first week in March. So we have to take it on a week-by-week basis and see how he is progressing. The same with Temba, though he might be out for a week more than Faf.’
Du Plessis is perhaps the most valuable of the casualties. The Proteas will need firm and astute captaincy against a battle-hardened Australian team, as well as a solid input of runs at the top of the order.
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