The South African speedster Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the 2019 World Cup opener against England on Thursday, with Proteas head coach Ottis Gibson confirming the paceman has failed to shrug off a shoulder injury.
The 35-year-old Steyn injured his shoulder during the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) and will not be risked at the Oval.
“Dale is not quite ready yet,” said Gibson on Tuesday. “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.
“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).”
South Africa have among the most potent pace bowling attacks going into the tournament, but injuries have been a concern. Kagiso Rabada too returned early from the IPL after a back issue, while Lungi Ngidi is only just returning from a spell on the sidelines. The team had earlier been forced to pull off Anrich Nortje because of a fractured thumb.
In Steyn’s absence, Faf du Plessis has the option to ask Dwaine Pretorius or Chris Morris to step into the attack.
Hosts England are top of the one-day international rankings and are favourites to win their first World Cup but South Africa are one of several sides in form.
They won their first warm-up match against Sri Lanka by 87 runs before making a strong start to their second against the West Indies, only for rain to cut the match short.