In what could be a major blow to the South African team and their mission of finally getting their hands on the World Cup trophy, their ace pace bowler Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the first two matches that Proteas would play in the big event.
This means that the legendary fast bowler won't just be unavailable for the opening encounter of the World Cup on May 30 between the hosts England, but also the second game of his team – against India on June 5.
The struggles of Dale Steyn with injury go back to early 2014 when he was unable to bowl fully in the third Test of a home series against Australia. Repeatedly, the great bowler has tried to make a comeback into the team but has often found himself walking off the pitch due to injury. He was first forced out of the away series in India in 2015, then left the field in late 2016 during the first Test of a series in Australia. He made his way back into the team for the home series against India in January, 2018 but was again forced to stop bowling during the match.
The right-arm bowler decided to take his time and only return to action if he was fully fit. Since late 2018, Steyn has been playing regular cricket for the Proteas side and even came to take part in the IPL. But after playing just two games for his franchise team – Royal Challengers Bangalore – he was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a niggle.
The South African board had repeatedly expressed its hope that the record-holder for most wickets by a South African in Test cricket would get fit in time for the big event. While his pace bowling colleague, Kagiso Rabada seems to have fully recovered from his injury.
Earlier this month, a report had surfaced in South African media stating that the team's head coach, Ottis Gibson, had requested the cricket board to bring fast bowlers back from the IPL much earlier than they actually did. However, the board dithered on the fear of annoying the BCCI and the seamers stayed on sustaining injuries. The board has refuted these allegations.