South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the World Cup with a shoulder injury, less than 24 hours before the team's clash against India on Wednesday. Left-arm quick Beuran Hendricks has been approved as his replacement by the ICC's Event Technical Committee of the World Cup.
Steyn had missed South Africa's first two games, against England and Bangladesh, after suffering a second shoulder injury which "has not responded to treatment and has ruled him out of bowling for the foreseeable future," according to a CSA release. The injury had also cut short his IPL campaign with Royal Challengers Bangalore.
"Unfortunately, it happened there in the IPL in those two games he played there. If he didn't get picked up to go to the IPL, who knows where Dale would have been right now"
Although South Africa were hopeful Steyn could be fit for Wednesday's game against India - even having him bowl briefly at training on Monday - a decision was made on Tuesday that his recovery was not going quickly enough. Steyn had warmed up and played football with the squad on Tuesday, but did not bowl at training.
"Dale has tried really hard - really hard - to try and get back into the team," South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said of Steyn's long streak of injuries. "It's been a tough two years, and we've got to be strong for him. He's going to need a bit of love. He tried unbelievably hard to get fit for this campaign, which would have been his last World Cup. We've got to be there for him now.
"Unfortunately, it happened there in the IPL in those two games that he played there. If he didn't get picked up to go to the IPL, who knows where Dale would have been right now."
Steyn had played two games in the IPL in April and bowled eight overs in all before he was ruled out of the T20 league with a right shoulder injury that has troubled him for long now.
The news is a serious blow to South Africa, whose campaign has also been hit by injuries to two other fast bowlers. Anrich Nortje, who had originally been part of the World Cup squad, was ruled out of the tournament with a fractured thumb in the week before South Africa departed to the UK. Lungi Ngidi has also since picked up a hamstring strain, which is likely to keep him out of the next few South Africa matches. Vernon Philander is unavailable due to injury as well.
The injury to Steyn has left the squad with only four functioning fast bowlers for the India match: Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius and Chris Morris. Batsman Hashim Amla had also missed the previous game after being struck in the helmet in the tournament opener, but is now cleared to play on Wednesday.
The ICC generally does not allow teams to replace players who came into the tournament with injuries, as Steyn had. However, South Africa's doctor Mohammed Moosajee explained that the injury that has now ruled Steyn out is different from the shoulder injury he had had when he arrived in England.
Steyn will now return to South Africa and work with a rehab team before any decision is made on the future of his career. He had said in February that he had no plans to retire from Test cricket, despite the injuries to his right shoulder - in addition to other serious ailments - having frustrated Steyn's career all the way back since 2015. He had first broken his shoulder at home, ahead of a New Year Test in Cape Town, before suffering a much more serious break in the same shoulder towards the end of 2016. A serious heel injury followed, before hamstring strains ailed him as well.
Hendricks has played only two ODIs, the most recent of which came in January. He has only taken one wicket across those two games, but has had more success in 10 T20 internationals, in which he has claimed 18 wickets.