South Africa won’t take risk with Dale Steyn ‘not quite ready’ to face England in Cricket World Cup opener
South Africa will not risk Dale Steyn for the Cricket World Cup opener against England as the paceman continues his comeback from a shoulder injury.
At 35, former Hampshire player Steyn, who won the Royal London One-Day Cup with the county in 2018, is still a key part of the attack.
But the decision has been made to ease him into the tournament gently rather than rush him back to face the hosts at The Oval on Thursday (10.30am).
With Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi both cleared for action, Steyn is being treated with kid gloves and may not feature until South Africa’s third game against India which will be played at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday, June 5 (10.30am).
‘He’s not quite ready yet, not far away but not ready,’ said head coach Ottis Gibson.
‘We think with a six-week tournament there’s no real need to force the issue just now. We know he’s close and he’s getting closer every day.’
Gibson’s previous role before taking over the Proteas was as England’s fast-bowling coach, a role he has held on two separate occasions.
During that time he worked at length with the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad and was quick to note that the pair have been talking up the home nation’s chances of lifting the trophy for the first time.
Steyn added: ‘I heard somewhere my two very good friends Broad and Anderson have said that England will have to do something really bad not to win this World Cup.
‘As far as they are concerned England have won it already!
‘To play the hosts, the number one team, is the best way to start, because it gives us a real sense of where we are and what we need to do going forward. But you don’t have to be number one to win the tournament and sometimes you can win the tournament and you don’t even go to number one.’
Gibson represented Glamorgan, Leicestershire and Durham during a long playing career and also toured England with the West Indies but he was still in for a surprise.
‘I’ll tell you, I didn’t realise the away dressing room was so small at the Oval,’ he said.
‘We’re squeezed in there nice and tight, which is cool because we’ve been a tight-knit group for the last 18 months.’