South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Johannesburg January 11, 2016

Steyn ruled out of third Test

ESPNcricinfo staff

Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the third Test against England at the Wanderers due to the shoulder injury he sustained during the opening match of the series in Durban.

There had been encouraging updates about Steyn's fitness during the Newlands Test but doubts over his recovery came when he was ruled "50-50" at the conclusion of that match and required a second opinion from another specialist on the injury. He was not with the South Africa squad in Johannesburg on Monday, instead remaining in Cape Town where he underwent a further scan.

"They are doing more scans to try and find something there," Russell Domingo, South Africa's coach said. "They are trying to find what the problem is and once they've given us that diagnosis we will be able to give you more information."

It continues a significant run of problems for Steyn, who has 406 wickets in 82 Tests, as he misses his fifth Test out of seven. Steyn sat out three of the four Tests in India with a groin injury and will now miss a second successive game against England but Domingo did not believe it pointed to a bleaker long-term future.

"I don't think it's the end of Dale Steyn's career at all," he said. "All players are going to experience some sort of niggles at some stage. He has just had a few of them of late. He is a great athlete, he is as fit as they come and these things happen. He is just going through that phase of his career at the moment and I'm sure he will get through it."

Similarly, South Africa will also have to find a way to cope and Domingo was optimistic about their depth despite his disappointment at losing Steyn. "We know he is a great bowler. He is the best bowler in the world and we haven't had him since the first Test in India. Not having him has been disappointing but there's not too much we can do. The game goes on. We've got to make do with it. It's the way it is. There's nothing we can do about it. It's an opportunity for somebody else to hopefully make a mark and strive to be as good as Dale Steyn was and is."

That somebody else will have to come out of the other five pacemen South Africa have in their squad. Morne Morkel, a fit-again Kyle Abbott, who has recovered from a hamstring niggle, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and uncapped Hardus Viljoen are competing for places in the pace pack and South Africa will spend the next two days concocting a combination to try and level the series.

The first question they will face is whether to include a spinner on what is expected to be a pitch with some life for the quick bowlers. Domingo admitted he would be hesitant to go all-pace even if conditions suggested he should. "I am one of those coaches that likes to have a spinner but the Wanderers is notorious for not having a spinner," he said. "We need to look at conditions. Once we've done that, we will have a discussion with the selectors. It's not unheard of to go into a Wanderers Test without a spinner. It's often been done."

If they listen to the groundsman, Bethuel Buthelezi, it should not be done this time. Buthelezi, who is preparing his first Test pitch, has promised bounce, pace, and turn and said if it was up to him, he would play a spinner. That does not automatically mean Dane Piedt, who took three wickets at Newlands, will keep his place. South Africa could also go back to JP Duminy after he responded to being dropped from the Test XI with a career-best unbeaten 260 for Cape Cobras in a domestic first-class game last week although how he would fit into the balance of the side would be a conundrum.

"It's an outstanding performance to go back and get your career best a couple of days after you've been left out of a Test match. It speaks volumes about his character and the type of cricketer he is," Domingo said. "He is in the squad, but the selectors have not decided if he will play. We know he can also offer something with the ball."

Assuming Morkel plays, even though Domingo has mentioned he is in the "red zone" when it comes to workload, that would mean deciding between two out of Rabada, Morris, Abbott and Viljoen and it may come down to who offers more with the bat. Morris stands out after scoring 69 on debut at Newlands.

"Chris Morris is definitely somebody we are looking at to fill a role like Shaun Pollock or Lance Klusener used to do for us - a guy who can bowl really well and offer us something with the bat," Domingo said. "I was pleased with his batting performance and his bowling as well. He is a good package - he also gives something in the field."

For the sake of experience, the remaining place will probably go to one of Abbott or Rabada but Viljoen could edge ahead because of local knowledge. The Lions quick took twenty wickets in two first-class matches at the Wanderers this season which may force him into the XI. "He has got a good chance," Domingo said. "He has a great record at the Wanderers. He has been on form and there is no substitute for pace. Nobody enjoys facing pace here."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sayak on January 14, 2016, 7:14 GMT

    @YORKSHIRE-86 : Agreed Moeen is not top five mettle in tests at the moment. But imho he is not a no. 8 either. He can well bat at 6 or 7 . But in the current English squad Stokes and Bairstow are better than him and so he comes to bat at no 8. By the way I hope you remember Moeens fight with Anderson as a partner to save the last test against SL. This guy can bat!

  • Jose on January 13, 2016, 15:51 GMT


    It is with sadness, I am reproducing the following from another Cricinfo article.


    "In 1985-86, a rebel Australian team led by Kim Hughes played the first of three unofficial "Test" matches against a South Africa XI"

    Rackemann, the OZ fast bowler who played in Kim's team, says:

    "South Africa ... batted to 11 and had six or seven bowlers. When the second new ball came around, they always had a fresh fast bowler. It was the same if they made a breakthrough."

    Effectively. THAT South African team had not only 6 to 7 bowlers, they also had 6 to 7 all rounders, since batting strength went all the way down to No 11 !

    Compare that, with the current struggles to find a decent replacement for Steyn on wane. And, struggles to get one to fill the shoes of King Kallis.

    30 years is far too long a gap for any meaningful comparison. Yet, it hurts.

    It's only sadness. No condescension. How can I coming from India?

    Would love to see a strong SA. Global cricket needs one.

  • Jeff on January 13, 2016, 12:55 GMT

    LOL at the guy who said Moeen is 'overqualified' at 8. Moeen has been tried several times up the order, in various format, and has proved to be a total complete and utter failure. He is nowhere near good enough to bat at this level. Also, why are so many people here wanting to drop Morkel? With Steyn and Philnder missing, Morkel should be the second bowler on the teamsheet (after the most important member of any attack, the spinner)., and so desperate to keep Morris in the eleven despite looking like a village bowler in the last test. If its because of his batting, then you are picking a losing team - if you are struggling to get the runs, that means the top six need changing, not the bowlers.

  • Sayak on January 13, 2016, 10:41 GMT

    It will be much better if SA opens with QDK and Elgar. Followed by Amla,ABD,Faf, Bavuma. Duminy at 7 (considering his 260 and also that he can roll arms , if needed). Morris at 8 as an all rounder (he is overqualified for that slot, just like Moeen). Rabada,Morkel and Viljoen to complete the list. No need to have a spinner. If spin is needed at all during some time in the 3rd/ 4th innings, Elgar and JPD can do together what Peidt was expected to do on this turf. Ideally SA should lookout for a spinning all rounder (Jadeja/Moeen mode) and try him at no 8 while promoting Morris to a permanent no. 7 in near future . Keshav Mahajan could well be the answer.

  • Ayesha on January 13, 2016, 4:39 GMT

    @sirviv1973 - oh yeah I forgot about their quota rules. In that case Piedt or Duminy will need to play. This is really sad when such policies hinder the selection of the best 11. This is a must win game for RSA, or else they lose the ranking they fought so hard for...pity!

  • Martin on January 12, 2016, 22:10 GMT

    @thozar. What a hilarious comment!! Priceless! Remember the last England tour of India? No, we didn't think you would. Anyway, it was very good of the india authorities to prepare a flat road pitch for the final Test in Nagpur. England began that match leading the series 2-1. If the pitch had been prepared to help England - like the pitches in the second and third Tests - then the fourth Test would also have resulted in a win for England. As it was the flat pitch gave india the hope of avoiding being beaten 3-1. Thank you for reading.

  • Garry on January 12, 2016, 21:23 GMT

    Bad news for SA, not much chance of winning this tests now. I hope Steyn can get his body in order, he is an all time great and good to watch. (Although if he doesn't SA is gone as a power, so its not all bad :)

  • Martin on January 12, 2016, 18:02 GMT

    @markbrop on January 11, 2016, 16:16 GMT. You say - "Dreadful blow for SA. They miss him almost as badly as England miss Pietersen". Obviously this is your idea of a joke! Very good! Who needs Pietersen when England have Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Johnny Bairstow? Mind you - you are right about Steyn. A fit and firing Steyn could destroy any team anytime. One of the worlds great bowlers - any side would miss such talent. But hey - maybe his day is done? Maybe age and injury are catching up with him? Pains me to say it because all the wombats love to watch him. Serious comment - we would rather have Steyn in the SA side at 100% and then beat SA fair and square. This way commenters from another country can't say - "well you beat SA but you wouldn't have beat SA if Steyn had been in the side...." Not talking about South Africa supporters here either....

  • Richard on January 12, 2016, 16:59 GMT

    @cricketdude23. Staistics are good for many things. But never tell the whole story. I said I wouldn't name names. But as you brought it up !! If I were a batsman, no doubt Steyn would be near the forefront of my mind ! But all of the following would have been ahead of him on my list of scary dreams. Marshall, Holding, Hall, Lindwall, Lillee, Thomson, Trueman. We are of course talking about truly FAST bowlers( the scary sort!), not glorified medium pacers, who in many cases may well have better Stats. And were perhaps more likely to take your wicket.

  • Neville on January 12, 2016, 15:33 GMT

    If Duminy was selected, whose place would he take? The middle order is settled for now, and there is no way he would open. Personally I would love to see Viljoen play at his home ground, along with Morris and Rabada who are all local boys. What a feast it would be to see them and Bavuma all successful on their home ground (yes, I know Morris has moved north, but I still consider him a Highveld breed). But I don't really care who plays, because I'm just so buoyed by the Newlands match that I feel SA can finally stick one to England.

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