Dale Steyn will not be available for Thursday's World Cup opener between South Africa and England at The Oval. And he may only be ready in time for South Africa's third game of the tournament, against India on June 5 - even that coach Ottis Gibson seemed to suggest was not a nailed-on certainty at the moment.
Steyn has not yet recovered fully from the shoulder injury which cut short his IPL campaign with Royal Challengers Bangalore. He did train with the squad on Tuesday, but only jogged in to bowl off a very short run-up and with no real pace. He then walked off the field fairly early in the session though he did come out to bat later.
"He's not quite ready yet," Gibson said. "He's not far away but not ready yet. We think with a 6-week tournament there's no real need to force the issue."
Steyn has not bowled in a game yet in England. He was in the 15 for the warm-up against West Indies but South Africa batted first before the game was rained off. He wasn't in the line-up for the game against Sri Lanka.
Steyn has not bowled competitively since pulling out of Royal Challengers Bangalore's IPL campaign in late April, having played only two games there. That was because of an inflammation in his right shoulder, the same one in which he snapped a bone back in November 2016.
Steyn's fitness and availability has been the subject of much scrutiny since he returned from India. He had already been named in South Africa's World Cup squad at that point, on the back of a successful and uninterrupted home season.
But even until the day before the team's departure for England, there was uncertainty about whether he would be in from the first game. And now, it isn't entirely clear when he will be back, Gibson admitting that they hadn't yet identified a date when he could return.
"We know that he's close and he's getting closer every day," Gibson said. "We'll give him as much time as we can to get ready. We're hoping if not Sunday [when they play Bangladesh at The Oval] then possibly by India."
Steyn's absence means South Africa will choose a replacement from among the allrounders Chris Morris, Dwayne Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo to support a pace attack spearheaded by Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. The latter pair are, happily for South Africa, fit and ready to play, having overcome injury issues of their own in the run-up to the tournament.
"We looked at the pitch today and it's got a tinge of green to it," Gibson said. "I suspect over the next two days that might change. At the moment we have three allrounders - Morris, Phehlukwayo and Pretorius - one of those three could come into the equation and we also got [Tabraiz] Shamsi, he could also come in to the equation."