JOHANNESBURG: At least one of South Africa’s selection conundrums appears to have already been solved with Dale Steyn’s comeback likely to be delayed by another week.
Conditions at Newlands usually call for a three-seamer, one spinner attack (to which South Africa might add an allrounder). Given Steyn’s lengthy absence from international cricket, coach Ottis Gibson appears reluctant to include him in that combination.
“Dale Steyn is fit again. But I don’t know just yet whether we will see him this week,” Gibson said. “He has had a year’s layoff. I don’t think if we were to pick a three-man seam attack plus a spinner that you would want to put him in that three-man attack, in case something happens and that leaves the team vulnerable if he can’t finish the game. That’s not to say that he won’t finish the game, but you don’t want to take that risk in the first game of the summer. He will come into the discussion but it depends on the formation of the team that we put on the field.”
Those who have been waiting to see Steyn steaming in may not have to wait much beyond the first 10 days of January. Gibson has described his use of South Africa’s full strength squad as being a “horses for courses” approach and suggested that the pace spearhead will be unleashed on the Highveld, where the second and third Test will be played.
“You’re looking at three different sets of conditions,” Gibson said. “Down here on the coast, the wicket tends to dry out quickly so you might play an extra bowler [allrounder] here. Further up into the Highveld, it might be different. We have to take each set of conditions as we find them now and then pick the best team for them.”