England in South Africa 2015-16 January 17, 2016

Steyn out of final Test, du Plessis vulnerable

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Dale Steyn will miss the final Test between South Africa and England as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury. ESPNcricinfo understands that even though Steyn will complete treatment in a hyperbaric chamber on the eve of the Centurion match he will not be risked with a view to getting him ready for the limited-overs' matches that follow.

That leaves the selectors with five other fast bowling options from the current squad - Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott and Hardus Viljoen - and they will have to decide on the right combination for SuperSport Park after going all-pace at the Wanderers.

If they continue to with that strategy, they will choose between Viljoen, who made his debut at the Wanderers, or Abbott, who played in Durban but sat out of the Cape Town Test with a hamstring injury. However, both Viljoen and Abbott could find themselves on the sidelines if the selectors opt to bring back a specialist spinner in Dane Piedt and deploy only three frontline quicks for the fourth Test and that may be among the easier decisions they have to make.

The more complicated questions lie in the batting line-up, where it is likely there will be a change at the top. Stiaan van Zyl, who has is averaging 15.60 as an opener and has five single figure scores from his last nine innings, could make way for Stephen Cook, who topped up on his two centuries in the first-class competition with a fifty in this week's round of matches.

Cook has been overlooked despite consistent performances because, at 33, he may not be a long-term solution but selection convener Linda Zondi last week said that age was not a barrier. "Cook is definitely in our plans. His age is not a concern. If a player is good enough his age doesn't matter."

Changes could also take place in the middle order where JP Duminy could force his way back into the XI with Faf du Plessis the most vulnerable to omission. The No.7 position will also be assessed depending on the fitness of Quinton de Kock, who could be reinstalled as keeper if he has recovered from the knee injury that kept him out of the Wanderers Test.

De Kock slipped while walking his dogs the day before the Test and Dane Vilas was flown in as an emergency replacement. Vilas had a good game with the gloves in hand but like his team-mates, struggled for runs, and the suggestion is that if de Kock is fit, he will play. De Kock underwent a scan on the first day of the match and the initial diagnosis showed no tears. South African management said his injury was "not as bad as we initially thought."

The South Africa squad was given two days off following their three-day defeat at the Wanderers and will reconvene in Centurion on Tuesday, which is also when the selectors will meet to finalise their decisions.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ralf12 on January 18, 2016, 18:52 GMT

    Select bowlers who can take 20 wickets. Morris is not international standard. Get Abbott back in. Give Viljoen another chance. I am worried about Morkel. After all these years he still does not know how to pitch a ball up.

  • gimme-a-greentop on January 18, 2016, 13:42 GMT

    @Villageblacksmith...no, it wasn't "all" of us. Why be petty? It's not like some English people on here don't run their mouths off, but there are many fair and objective ones too. It was great to see some runs on the board in CT but there was still a lot of cricket to be played. England have played the better cricket full stop. Now go gloat in the corner (joke).

  • MariusRoodt on January 18, 2016, 13:00 GMT

    Why is this article not updated to reflect that fact that Cook has been called up?

  • JohnMR on January 18, 2016, 12:59 GMT

    I'm still at a loss as to why Duminy isn't bowling more. I realise he is struggling with the bat but he really should be our Ali. Tommytucker, I feel so sorry for v zyl. thrust into the opening position but I hope Rossouw gets a crack. fully agree re the bowling lineup.

  • VillageBlacksmith on January 18, 2016, 12:57 GMT

    hang on… only a match ago the rsa batting line up was back and firing on all cylinders and all the saf & ind posters on here said rsa was going to smash Eng… now its 2-0 its panic panic panic smith smith smith… its great fun to read

  • Richard_Saffa on January 18, 2016, 11:45 GMT

    Also, need to figure out a front line spinner.. We are still not sure who is our front line spinner.. Time to reshuffle the entire staffs. Bring Smith into administration, he'll definitely have a positive impact. We need to bring in a proper head coach.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on January 18, 2016, 11:44 GMT

    The batting lineup for the last Test match based on the current squad: 1. Elgar 2. Cook 3. Amla 4.AB 5. Van Zyl/Roussow 6. Bavuma 7.DE Kock

    Now the bowling lineup is tricky. Do we play a spinner again in Piedt - who is one of our leading wicket takers. Abbott surely must play and does Morris warrant his place in the team as a front line seamer? I am doubtful.

  • Richard_Saffa on January 18, 2016, 11:41 GMT

    Need to groom young cricketers properly and if you commit to an youngster, need to give him a long run. De Lange, Hardus need a longer run.. If thinking about a long term opening solution, start grooming Aiden markram. Let him develop under cook and elgar. Bring in someone like Dwayne pretorious, a good all-round talent. Has done far better than morris in the domestic circuit.

  • bestbuddy on January 18, 2016, 11:25 GMT

    @Conkemp, Vern and Faf never got dropped from the test side; both have only missed test due to injury since their (recentish) debuts, so you need to check your facts. That said selection is a problem; there is no consistency, no indication of what a player has to do to make it, and too much loyalty once selected. I would also worry about our coaching, which seems poor (our newer players seem to be technically deficient compared to the English team) and we seem to have the wrong attitude, spirit and lack of idea's, typified by our bowlers inability to bowl consistent line and lengths under pressure. And lets just skip the negative affect on morale due to quota's. As for new talent well the cupboard looks pretty bare; Viljoen and Morris's differential between their recent FC record and this test (on their home ground) is a clear indication, and the leading runs scorers in FC this season are almost exclusively over 30 and/or in the test squad already (or havent even passed 100 yet)

  • MNGholfers on January 18, 2016, 11:00 GMT

    I say it again, not that I'm a Tahir fan but England just came of a series where a leggie had them fluffing... We should have exploited that, I do believe Piedt and Harmer is the more long term options but sometimes you have to play horses for courses cricket! We have to invest in a more positive approach in the batting! Team for the Centurion test should be Elgar, Rossouw, AB, Amla, Bavuma,v Zyl, De Kock, Abbott, Rabada, Morkel, Tahir. We should learn to play as a team again and realize that at times the quicks must do a holding role instead of attacking all the time. WE NEED TO PLAY SMARTER CRICKET!! Always do what the opposition expects the least, it's like we've lost the finer art of setting s batsmen up instead we're the one's being set up!! I'd love to see Parnell reaching his full potential because he does have the talent to be a top class all-rounder and being a left arm quicky can add a different dimension to the SA side!!

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