Steyn named in Titans XI for season franchise first-class opener against the Dolphins
Dale Steyn’s name is on the Titans’ team sheet for their opening fixture of the franchise first-class competition against the Dolphins in Centurion on September 19.
Steyn has not played since November when he fractured a shoulder bowling for South Africa against Australia in Perth.
Whether he has walked the long road back to health and fitness well enough to bowl in 11 days’ time like the premier fast bowler he has been for the best part of 13 years could not be established on Friday.
But the Titans are understandably keen to unleash a player who has returned to their fold after spending the past six seasons as a Cobra in Cape Town.
Hence‚ as has been confirmed from Centurion‚ Steyn’s presence in the Titans’ XI.
Should he play‚ and come through unscathed‚ what will that mean for Steyn’s international comeback?
“For me‚ anyone who plays in those matches is available for selection‚” Linda Zondi‚ the national selection convenor said on Friday.
Expect the Titans-Dolphins game‚ along with the matches between the Knights and the Cobras in Bloemfontein and the Lions and the Warriors at the Wanderers to be festooned with internationals.
Times Media has learnt that South Africa’s new head coach‚ Ottis Gibson has asked for as many of his new charges as possible to be deployed in the only cricket they will be able to play before the start of the test series against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom on September 28.
Steyn is the finest fast bowler of the age‚ and he is only four wickets away from surpassing Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s most successful test bowler — a record it isn’t difficult to imagine him claiming against the Bangladeshis.
But South Africa have more important engagements this summer‚ with India and Australia on their way to the country.
Might it not make more sense for Steyn to ease his way back in games of lesser import — even amateur matches — than expect him to fire in a test attack from the start of the season?
And then there’s the question of where to put him in a line-up crammed with Vernon Philander‚ Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada.
“There’s definitely space for Dale Steyn‚” Gibson’s predecessor‚ Russell Domingo‚ said on Friday.
“He’s worked hard on his fitness and his rehab seems to have gone well. It’s now about confidence and getting through the mental barriers to get back to where he needs to be.”
For now‚ that place is at the top of his run for the Titans against the Dolphins in Centurion.