South Africa v West Indies, Champions Trophy, Group B, Cardiff June 12, 2013

Steyn likely to be fit for final game


South Africa's hopes of reaching the Champions Trophy semi-finals received a boost with the news that pace spearhead Dale Steyn is likely to be fit for their virtual quarter-final against West Indies on June 14. Given their poor record in knockout matches, South Africa will look to the experience of their best bowler to help them win.

Today, Steyn bowled at full pace for the first time since straining his side in last Monday's warm-up match against Pakistan at The Oval. He missed South Africa's first two matches of the tournament while undergoing rest and rehabilitation, which has so far gone according to plan.

"Dale is progressing quite well. He came through his net session today without any discomfort," Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager, who is also a doctor, said. "We will watch him overnight to see if he wakes up with any stiffness. If he comes through tomorrow's practice then he should be available."

If Steyn is fit, South Africa will have something of a selection dilemma. Their three seamers - Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Chris Morris and Ryan McLaren - performed admirably against Pakistan. If the team management's hand was forced, Morris would probably be culled purely because of his inexperience.

Morris understands that, and promised that if he was benched, South Africa, could be assured of having a "bloody good 12th man," in him, similar to what Steyn was against Pakistan. Not only did he carry on refreshments for his team-mates, he also regularly relayed instructions.

"He was loving it. There was a stage where he threw a bit of abuse at one of the batsmen. That's Dale's character," Morris revealed. "He was brilliant. He kept reminding us, 'There's a run-out coming'. He kept encouraging us. He's a ball of energy."

Steyn's involvement is the embodiment of what South Africa have called their team culture since Kirsten took over two years ago. It centres on inclusiveness and knowledge sharing, and with South Africa at a crunch stage of a major tournament, Steyn could provide plenty of the latter.

"Gary has placed a lot of emphasis on the reserve guys playing a massive part. Having Dale run out there with ideas and options is massively important. He has played with and against a lot of these guys for a number of years so the information and the guidance he offers is invaluable," Russell Domingo, Kirsten's successor and the current assistant coach, said. "The guys feed off Dale. He is a mentor, a great leader of the bowling unit, and he is just a good bloke, so guys enjoy getting advice from him."

For that reason, should Steyn be declared fit, it is far more likely that South Africa will play all four seamers and leave out one of their specialist spinners, as they did in the first match against India in Cardiff. Left-arm spinners Robin Peterson and Aaron Phangiso played alongside JP Duminy in Birmingham on a pitch that took turn, but South Africa are not expecting similar conditions at Sophia Gardens, despite the role spinners have played in the competition thus far.

"Everyone expected the ball to swing a bit more than it has. Maybe because of the cold conditions, the ball hasn't done as much as we thought," Domingo said. "I know they are saying this is quite a dry June, so that's showing in the wickets. The spinners are in the game big time.

"It's been a while since South Africa played three spinners so I'd say it has been a bit surprising that the ball hasn't done more in the first 20 overs. But this wicket lends itself to a little bit more pace and bounce than Birmingham, and with the overhead conditions around, the ball might do something. The wicket might be a little bit sportier."

With South Africa hopeful their seamers will come into the game more, they will have to decide which spinner to leave out. Despite Phangiso bowling his full quota of 10 overs against Pakistan, as opposed to Robin Peterson's four, it appears Phangiso will carry drinks. "Robbie is a big wicket-taker, a big-game player, and has contributed in every aspect: batting, bowling, fielding," Domingo said, while also confirming Peterson is not carrying any niggles, and had not bowled his quota for tactical reasons only.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    I thought Phangiso outbowled Peterson in the last game; I was pleasantly surprised! And the last I checked Phangiso is an all-rounder, and in fact started out as a middle-order batsmen before turning to spin. That said I still think Phangiso is the one who has to go for Steyn...

  • Patrick on June 13, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    I think rain will be the winner in this game. A washout means SA go through.

  • Nix on June 13, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    I must say, McLaren looks like a fantastic allrounder. I have watched him play a lot in the domestic scene and always felt that the he has the ability to become a great allrounder. While he has shown what he can do with the bat, I believe we have not yet seen his true capability with the bat and also with the ball. McLaren should play in the team even if Kallis is playing, that is if he plays odi cricket again. Also I wonder if he has a chance of taking the number 7 spot in the test team that would further increase the power of the SA test team

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    ZCF_Outkast what you are saying that you would play Phangiso above Steyn. One problem. Left handers like left arm orthodox bowlers. It's part of their swing. You saying we must play one batsman less in a ODI is just wrong. It does not make sense. And your last closing phrase sounds as if you are only supporting 2 players. Support the team. I'll also play the allrounders before phangiso. We still have 2 spinners and even faf can turn his arm around. The attack just looks stronger with morris, steyn, McLaren, and tsotsobe in it with Petersen and duminy the two spinners.

  • Duncan on June 13, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Many commenters have picked this up; Tsotsobe is the highest ranked ODI bowler for SA, and with that last game he showed something if why that is. Phangiso is an exciting prospect and was given a full run of 10 overs which made his results look worse (I think he was over-bowled).

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    In my opinion, Phangiso shud be dropped. He was an excellent player in one of the tournaments recently played but hasnt shown the same since. Ingram is due some runs but i think Alviro would be sooo much better in these conditions. Alviro is also a much better fielder. Faf hasnt found his timing and is overdue runs which leads me to wonder why Elgar wasnt part of the sqaud but whats done is done. Depending on the pitch I also think de Kock shud at some point be given an oppertunity. He is an Xfactor player and can keep wicket. Morris, albeit is inexperienced, can play but i hope he is guided well the management, Lonwabo and Dale as he is sometimes erractic. ODI cricket for me shud be packed with all rounders. Mediocre Mclaren seems to be growing as a player, finally, so well done to him!

    WI knocked SA out of a world cup and they have Gayle, Pollard, Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Roach, Narine who are big match players so they can't be underestimated.

  • Neriyan on June 13, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    @ZCF_Outkast: I could not agree more. People seem to rate Steyn on his test match bowling record, which is awesome. However in ODIs, SA's two best bowlers are Morkel and Tsotsobe and then Steyn. They both have an average of around 23, while Steyn's is just under 30. Stats don't lie.

  • Themba on June 13, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    Phangiso should be left out, if we need another slow bowler we can replace Ingram with Alvirio...

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    Tsotsobe iz no doubt a wicket taker baller.but the fact which i dislyk iz that his only mean taking wicket is catch.He never can ball wicket to wicket,fuller or yourker length which iz much needed wen game iz close near to victory or while death over...

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2013, 5:14 GMT

    strange!!! last match between pak vs sa SA it was quite spin pitch,U hv ever seen what hafiz and Azmal done in this pitch.Now turn of phangiso. He gave 50 run Bowled 10 over in a low scoring match and luckily got a wicket of wahab Riaz for Bad shot Selection .He has no variations, no turn.I think dumini even better off spin than Robbie p and Phangiso.Due to still cold weather in England pitch iz quite spinner getting more help rather than pacer from pitch.just add genuine leg spinner imran tahir instead of phangiso n see.Its phangiso not morris shud be ruled out