Image courtesy of: Zimbio
South Africa pace bowler Dale Steyn is likely to be out of action for four to six weeks after suffering significant tissue damage on his left heel.
Steyn sustained the injury on the second day of the first Test against India in Cape Town when he landed awkwardly when bowling the third delivery of his 18th over. With it being the last over before the tea break, Steyn tossed the ball to fellow seamer Vernon Philander and proceeded to leave the field.
Initially, it was thought that Steyn had an issue with his shoe or spike, but with the problem being a lot more serious, it has been confirmed that the 34-year-old will not bowl for the remainder of the first Test.
“Understandably, he was disappointed but he will try his best to recover as quickly as possible. You could see how much he was enjoying himself out there,” South Africa team manager Mohammed Moosajee, who is also a doctor, was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “Generally, you need rest. That allows significant tissue damage to recover.”
Moosajee added that Steyn’s injury was in “no way related to his bowling loads or previous injuries”.
Cricket South Africa will seek out advice from a well-known ankle surgeon to see if there is any way to speed up Steyn’s recovery. But, given that he has just returned from spending over a year on the sidelines with a serious shoulder injury, it is likely the board will take a cautious approach.
Steyn was seen limping when leaving the ground on Saturday, indicating that his participation in the first Test is all but over. However, it is understood that he could bat if needed.
“At the moment it’s quite tender and it’s extremely uncomfortable to run,” Moosajee said. “Obviously, with some anti-inflammatories and rest overnight, who knows how he might turn up tomorrow. But at this stage it’s unlikely that he will be able to run. In fact, we’d probably like him to be non-weight bearing.”
Should Steyn miss the rest of the series, it is likely that he will target the Australia series in March as a potential return date. But, if his recovery goes extremely well, there is a chance he could even feature in the limited overs series against India next month.
But, with the Proteas effectively down to three seamers for the rest of the first Test, Kagiso Rabada conceded that the selectors made the right call in including four fast bowlers in the playing XI.
“Luckily this time we went with four seamers. So there’s three seamers now that have to do the work. Otherwise Temba would have to bowl again,” Rabada joked as Temba Bavuma wasn’t selected for the first Test. “But yes, it’s never nice for Dale because he’s just come back from injury, so just feeling very sympathetic for him. It’s not a nice thing, but we have to find a way to win this Test match.”