Cricket South Africa has set no timeline for Dale Steyn's return to the national team after the fast bowler suffered another delay in his recovery from a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery in November.
Steyn was to play two four-day matches for South Africa A in England as preparation for the Test series, but he revealed on Saturday that he was not going because he has not been able to bowl at all. He said he would target a county deal late in the English summer and try and be available for the home series against Bangladesh in September-October.
CSA, though, decided not to create any further expectation on Steyn's comeback.
"Dale's surgery was a resounding success and the bone has healed," Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager who is also a doctor, said at the team's departure for England on Tuesday. "The challenge is to get the shoulder stabilised and strengthened, and that's why there is a bit of delay with getting him on the park again.
"What the medical committee has decided is that we are not going to set an artificial deadline or timeline as to when he is going to be playing. We will wait for when he is ready. We are hopeful he will be ready some time during the home series."
South Africa's 2017-18 home summer includes ten Tests - two against Bangladesh, four against India pending confirmation, and four against Australia - as well as their new franchise T20 tournament, which will provide plenty of opportunities for Steyn.
Although he is available for all formats, Steyn is likely to be more inclined to play Tests as soon as possible, especially as he is five wickets away from overtaking Shaun Pollock as South Africa's leading wicket-taker. Steyn played only eight Tests since the start of 2015 and broke down in three of them.
Good luck to the boys as they leave for the U.K. today.— Dale Steyn (@DaleSteyn62) May 16, 2017
I'll definitely be watching and backing you guys all the way.#ProteaFire
The only other injury concern for South Africa at the moment is Faf du Plessis, whose shoulder will be assessed when the team arrives in the UK "There is a plan in place to have him ready for the first ODI but we are not sure of the warm-up games yet," Moosajee said.
Du Plessis is one of at least seven players who are likely to play all formats on the tour of England, along with Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj and Morne Morkel. The 12-week trip is longer than any they have taken, and Moosajee said the management would seek out "creative and flexible" ways to give them down time.
"Twelve weeks is unprecedented - we haven't been on a tour that long," Moosajee said. "Guys might come home for a week in between if time and space permits."
Du Plessis, South Africa's Test captain, is the most likely to leave the tour at some stage. His wife, Imari, is 32 weeks pregnant with their first child, and du Plessis indicated he would like to return home for the birth. "I would like to be there for the birth of my first child so hopefully the timing works well," he said.
South Africa's ODI captain AB de Villiers and his wife Danielle are expecting their second child but his participation in the Champions Trophy should not be affected because the baby is due later. South Africa have made a decision not to allow families to be with the players during the Champions Trophy.
"It's a really good move not to have family members for this tournament," de Villiers said. "It's a short tournament, only five games in total if we get to the final, so we are going to be focused on that."