Dale Steyn's chances of playing any part in the ongoing series against Australia have all but disappeared after he was not named in the Titans' squad for the final fixture of the season, which starts on Thursday. Steyn, who has not played any cricket since injuring his heel in the New Year's Test against India, has resumed bowling but needed to prove his fitness by playing in a first-class match. He was not ready to play in last week's round of matches, and has been left out of the Titans squad.
Before the series, selection convener Linda Zondi made clear that Steyn, who has suffered significant injuries in the last three years, needed to come through some domestic cricket before bidding for an international return. Faf du Plessis echoed those thoughts when discussing how quickly players should return to action after time on the sidelines.
"With a bowler you've got to look at the individual," du Plessis said. "Dale is obviously on the side and we have to be a little bit more cautious. He has been injured, so for him it's probably a little bit more important to get back and play a game to see that he can bowl quite a few overs. When he gets through that he will obviously be back in the mix."
Should Steyn continue to be sidelined for this series, his next chance of playing international cricket will come in July-August when South Africa tour Sri Lanka. Before then, Steyn may look for a county stint after going unsold at the IPL auction. But there is still hope to see Steyn in action - he was given a new national contract, which will run until April 2019 - and he has expressed a desire to return to the highest level. Steyn is three wickets from overtaking Shaun Pollock as South Africa's leading wicket-taker in Tests.