Dale Steyn brought seven-week-old Chobe, a Border Collie puppy, and nine-year-old Sadie, a golden retriever, to Newlands on Monday. Morne Morkel was there too, and had his 17-month old son Arias in tow. But this was not a play date for the two pacemen. They are both on the mend as they work towards comebacks and the progress reports from both are pleasing.
Morkel has been battling a back injury that he sustained last July. Since then, he has played one first-class match for his franchise, in October, and was taken on South Africa's tour of Australia where he played in three warm-up matches but not in the Tests.
He was due to be considered for a List A game for Northerns on January 22 - the same match in which AB de Villiers made his return from elbow surgery - with a view to playing the third T20 against Sri Lanka but suffered a recurrence of symptoms and was unavailable for any game time. Morkel has been bowling in the nets and is hopeful of playing some List A matches for Titans in the one-day cup which starts next Friday, in an attempt to declare himself fully fit for the three-Test series in New Zealand in March.
Morkel will not make himself available for the IPL in a bid to be as strong and fresh as possible for South Africa's tour to England this winter. The three-month long visit starts with ODIs in May, the Champions Trophy in June, three T20s, and four Tests over July and August.
Steyn is also targeting the England tour, although only the Test component of it. He has been out of action since breaking a bone in his shoulder during the Perth Test in November and was set to be sidelined for six months. Steyn started running and doing gym work in January and has now begun to swim, well ahead of schedule. He was initially due to hit the pool from the end of February but has been able to swim already, a sign that the shoulder is healing.
Vernon Philander, who had neither a pet nor a child with him, was also at Newlands. Philander has not been playing for the Cobras in the first-class competition. He had a minor impingement of his ankle from the Test series against Sri Lanka and has been advised rest in the lead-up to the New Zealand series. Philander tore ankle ligaments in warm-ups in Bangalore in November 2015 and was out for the rest of the 2015-16 summer but has since been successful for South Africa in Tests in Australia and at home against Sri Lanka.