Dale Steyn's debut in the BBL for the Melbourne Stars has been delayed due to a niggling side strain with uncapped Pakistan quick Haris Rauf plucked out of Hobart grade cricket to replace him in the Stars squad for their opener against Brisbane Heat at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast on Friday night.
Steyn injured his side playing for the Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi Super League in South Africa on December 1. He was scheduled to play the Blitz's last MSL match but it was washed out. After arriving in Australia earlier this week the Stars opted not to play him in their opening match, instead setting him for the clash against Hobart Hurricanes on Sunday in Moe.
"Our priority is Dale's fitness and continuing his treatment," Melbourne Stars physiotherapist Tommy Simsek said. "He is very keen to play but we'll let him rest after a long flight to Australia and put him in the best position to be ready for our match in Moe on Sunday."
Steyn's overseas replacement player, England's Pat Brown, has already arrived in Australia despite not being available to play until Steyn's stint ends. Brown's early arrival was partly designed for him to work with Steyn and he could have played against the Heat but given Brown had not played since turning out for Karnataka Tuskers in the Abu Dhabi T10 league on November 22, having spent the last month in the cold UK winter, the Stars opted not to use him.
Instead, the Stars have called-up Rauf who has been playing club cricket for Glenorchy in Hobart. He is in Australia as part of the Lahore Qalandars Player Development Program. Rauf took 4 for 12 in a T20 game for Glenorchy against Clarence on Saturday including the wicket of Australia and Hobart Hurricanes batsman D'Arcy Short.
Rauf took 11 wickets in 10 matches in the PSL for the Qalandars earlier this year with an economy rate of 7.41 including a match-winning 4 for 23 against the Karachi Kings.
Rauf may not be the only debutant for the Stars with former Perth Scorchers players Nathan Coulter-Nile, Hilton Cartwright and Clint Hinchliffe all named in the 13-man squad to face the Heat on Friday night.