SA strike bowlers in the spotlight
With the Proteas leaving for the World Cup today, the fitness of Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn is of paramount concern after being injured in the Indian Premier League
As the winter sun beat down at Cricket SA's High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria, some serious Cricket World Cup business was taking shape.
Of significant national interest is the fitness of Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn, SA's fast bowling double act.
They hold SA's hopes from a bowling perspective. The UK's flat tracks and small grounds are a menacing prospect for bowlers of different breeds.
SA need their highly skilled pace merchants fully fit and firing to tame England's blazing batting unit.
With the word from the SA camp saying Rabada and Steyn should be fit for the tournament opener against the hosts at the Oval on May 30, it's a race against time with the team leaving for the UK today.
Proteas physiotherapist Craig Govender, who spends most of his time trying to get everyone, including the bowlers, in good working order, was cautiously optimistic about the two being ready.
"It's still touch and go. We want to make sure that all of our t's are crossed and i's are dotted. The World Cup is quite long and you have to make sure that injuries don't re-occur. You need guys to be 100% fit before the first game. The first game is very important to us, we want the guys to be fit and I'll be working 24/7 to make sure they are," Govender said.
Rabada looked like he's shrugged off the back niggle that curtailed his Indian Premier League participation.
While he wasn't going at full tilt like Lungi Ngidi was in the middle-net that the majority took part in, Rabada limbered up and bowled faster than most medium pacers would when fully fit.
Steyn, who went to the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 under an injury cloud and then ended up playing in only one game out of four, did not take part in Thursday's training session.Govender kept an eye on Rabada from under the medical tent but had good news."On Thursday it was about 10 days since he came back from India and he's had a week of intensive physio. He was in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, he was getting massages, doing physio and rehab. On Thursday it was the first time he bowled since he came back from India, so it's a progression," Govender said."We're building him up and he's not there yet but we need to build up his loads. He bowls at 150km/h so you can tell him to go from a standing start to bowl at that speed. That's the kind of planning we have with him and each day is structured. Hopefully he doesn't get re-injured but he's under a hawk's eye."Injuries haven't been kind to Steyn and at 35 he won't recover like a 25-year-old.Govender said the nature of Steyn's shoulder issue meant he needed to be handled with serious care."Dale's had a previous shoulder injury that put him out for a while. It requires a lot of medicine and rehab but a lot of it is mental. We need to ensure he doesn't have pain. He came up late on Thursday as he was doing a lot of his rehab in Cape Town," Govender said.Ngidi, who missed the bulk of the international summer with a knee injury and the IPL with a side strain, was more candid with the hopes of his fellow pacemen."I know the two guys and if something was seriously wrong they would have said something. KG doesn't get many injuries and he seems to heal quicker than the rest of us. I wasn't stressed about him and while I wasn't too sure about Dale, he would have spoken if something was wrong," Ngidi firstname.lastname@example.org