South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn will only be considered for the fourth Test against Australia on March 30, and not the third as initially hoped as he continues to recover from a heel injury.
Steyn was due to play for the Titans in the first-class competition on Thursday, but will not turn out for the fixture. Instead, he is targeting the final round of franchise matches, which starts on March 22, the same day as the Newlands Test, with the aim to be fit for Johannesburg. That means if South Africa are without Kagiso Rabada - who is awaiting the outcome of a hearing on a Level 2 charge - they won't have Steyn to take his place. Instead, Morne Morkel, who was left out for Lungi Ngidi, could come into contention.
Faf du Plessis was not fully aware of Steyn's situation in the immediate aftermath of the Port Elizabeth Test but his hopes of the fast bowler being available have been dashed.
"I'm not 100% sure where Dale is. From my understanding, he would have needed to play a game this week, which he didn't, which would probably set him back for the third Test, I would assume," du Plessis said. "Our plan for him was to play a game. But I would be praying extra hard that he would be ready for that third Test to make sure we can have him available if he [is fit]. On the spot now, I would assume probably on the fourth Test."
Steyn needs three wickets to overtake Shaun Pollock as South Africa's leading Test wicket-taker.