Steyn '50-50' for Johannesburg, Philander out of series

Dale Steyn needs further assessment before his availability for the third Test is confirmed © AFP

Vernon Philander has been ruled out of the Test series against England due to the ankle injury he sustained in India while Dale Steyn is only rated 50-50 for the third Test in Johannesburg but Kyle Abbott has recovered from his hamstring strain.

Steyn suffered a shoulder injury in Durban which ruled him out of the New Year Test at Newlands and will now see another specialist for a second opinion ahead of a fitness test when the squad meets up again in Johannesburg on Monday.

Yesterday, Steyn was in good spirits over his fitness when he tweeted: “Start bowling again today. #lekker.” However, it would be no surprise if South Africa took a cautious approach after his recent injury history.

Steyn has been injured nine times in the last two-and-a-half years, has sat out four of their last six Tests, and his problems seem to stem from each other. He missed three of the four matches in India after suffering a groin strain in the first Test which ultimately resulted in seven weeks on the sidelines.

That lengthy period of time off the field contributed to the shoulder problem, caused from heavy bowling loads in the Durban Test after a period of rest.

“Vernon Philander is a no-go for the Test series. He is still very much in his rehab phase,” Mohammad Moosaje, the South Africa team manager, said. “Kyle Abbott has made a full recovery from his hamstring strain and he will be ready for the Johannesburg Test.

“Dale Steyn is pretty much 50-50. He has got another appointment with a shoulder specialist in Cape Town tomorrow for another opinion and will be reassessed when we regroup in Johannesburg on Monday.”

The full squad for the final two Tests will be named on Friday with the main debate surrounding a potential replacement opener for Stiaan van Zyl. Stephen Cook would be the favourite if a player from outside the current squad was called in.

South Africa’s performance at Newlands, where they made England nervous on the final day, has eased some of their other form concerns around the top order. Hashim Amla, who has stepped down as captain, made 201 while Faf du Plessis made a battling 86. Most significantly, though, was the century for Temba Bavuma which has secured his long-term spot in the middle order.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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