England in South Africa 2015-16 January 6, 2016

Steyn '50-50' for Johannesburg, Philander out of series

ESPNcricinfo staff

Dale Steyn needs further assessment before his availability for the third Test is confirmed © AFP

Vernon Philander has been ruled out of the Test series against England due to the ankle injury he sustained in India while Dale Steyn is only rated 50-50 for the third Test in Johannesburg but Kyle Abbott has recovered from his hamstring strain.

Steyn suffered a shoulder injury in Durban which ruled him out of the New Year Test at Newlands and will now see another specialist for a second opinion ahead of a fitness test when the squad meets up again in Johannesburg on Monday.

On Tuesday, Steyn was in good spirits over his fitness when he tweeted: "Start bowling again today. #lekker." However, it would be no surprise if South Africa took a cautious approach after his recent injury history.

Steyn has been injured nine times in the last two-and-a-half years, has sat out four of their last six Tests, and his problems seem to stem from each other. He missed three of the four matches in India after suffering a groin strain in the first Test which ultimately resulted in seven weeks on the sidelines.

That lengthy period of time off the field contributed to the shoulder problem, caused from heavy bowling loads in the Durban Test after a period of rest.

"Vernon Philander is a no-go for the Test series. He is still very much in his rehab phase," Mohammad Moosajee, the South Africa team manager, said. "Kyle Abbott has made a full recovery from his hamstring strain and he will be ready for the Johannesburg Test.

"Dale Steyn is pretty much 50-50. He has got another appointment with a shoulder specialist in Cape Town tomorrow for another opinion and will be reassessed when we regroup in Johannesburg on Monday."

The full squad for the final two Tests will be named on Friday with the main debate surrounding a potential replacement opener for Stiaan van Zyl. Stephen Cook would be the favourite if a player from outside the current squad was called in.

South Africa's performance at Newlands, where they made England nervous on the final day, has eased some of their other form concerns around the top order. Hashim Amla, who has stepped down as captain, made 201 while Faf du Plessis made a battling 86. Most significantly, though, was the century for Temba Bavuma which has secured his long-term spot in the middle order.

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  • Friend on January 8, 2016, 3:25 GMT

    Mr.Harmony111 has echoed my thoughts here. I have been saying all along that Vernon Philander will only play if the consitions are helpful so that he can protec his precious average. We can now guarantee that the pitches will be flat tracks for the next two tests and Amala will be regarded equal to Tendulkar by S Africa fans:-( Mr. Harmony, well said, Morkel is no better than Ishant Sharma. I am also eagerly waiting for India's next tour to S Africa. If we olay them now, I am comfident we can win.

  • Harmon on January 7, 2016, 17:11 GMT

    @ProteaBoy: Amla, ABD, Steyn --- all 3 are about to enter mid 30s. Am I not right there? Does Philander not mysteriously get injured if it is a flat wicket? The co-relation is certainly high even if one argues for no causation. Apart from the 5 players I mentioned, who else is a long race horse in the SA team as of now? JPD? Piedt? Morkel, whose record is adjustably as worse as Ishant Sharma if we consider he often plays on helpful wickets? Faf may have a mild claim though, I admit that. Bavuma and Morris are far too inexp for any future projections. As for the pitches, tag me in a comment if you see SA producing a green top for the next two tests.

  • Ayesha on January 7, 2016, 16:05 GMT

    Steyn should not be risked unless he is 100% fit. The team should be: Elgar, Van Zyl, Amla, ABD, FDP, Bavuma, DeKock, Piedt, Rabada, Viljoen, Morkel

    Would have preferred Harmer over Piedt. But not sure he will make the squad.

    Will keep Van Zyl and a spinner because there is no JP. So need some part timers. Also, Van Zyl hasn't looked terrible in this series, and got run out in the last innings. He is young and new to opening. So must give him a longer run.

  • Dwain on January 7, 2016, 12:03 GMT

    @Harmony111 you really don't like SA hey. Is it because we are number 1 perhaps? You have no basis for your arguments and just bash SA at every chance and seen to glorify Englands players.

  • nikhil on January 7, 2016, 8:40 GMT

    Steyn will be gutted to not have a crack at some of these clueless England batsman such as Root,Compton,Bairstow and Taylor who are frightened and petrified of high quality pace and swing. Steyn has a great chance to get his test bowling average under 20 bowling against these fairweather bullies.

  • Mahdy on January 7, 2016, 8:31 GMT

    I believe it is time to give Viljoen a go - he will not disappoint. Piedt should be given a rest and Harmer selected instead. Harmer is about the same as Piedt but has the advantage that he can bat a bit

  • greig on January 7, 2016, 8:25 GMT

    Oh God this is terrible news. 50/50 means no basically. I wish we could finally face England will a full strength bowling lineup.

  • Mashuq on January 7, 2016, 7:59 GMT

    A pity about the level of most comments thus far: flat decks etc. Piedt will always be required at Wanderers: a no-brainer. Cook, Elgar, Amla, de Villiers,du Plessis,Bavuma, de Kock, Viljoen/Abbott, Piedt, Rabada, Morkel. Well-poised outcome. Odds stacked against SA winning the series now without the wide-eyed Steyn and Philander, but Viljoen could help achieve a win on debut anywhere, although Abbott is more reliable. England will need to re-group. but the confidence has returned so it's all systems go. Can only get better!

  • Amol on January 7, 2016, 7:48 GMT

    If it's 50-50, that only means 'NO'...Let's allow Steyn to recover completely.

  • Bertus on January 7, 2016, 7:20 GMT

    @MOSHIN9975 Steyn averaged 21.82 in 2015 compared to his career average of 22.53. I would hardly call him over the hill just yet. As some of us get older, we definitely need to manage our work load. Recovery takes longer etc. By the way, Steyn cranked it over 140 kph a couple of times in the Durban test. It being the first test after injury for him, I'm sure he was still working himself back to full tilt... it doesn't happen by itself

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