CAPE TOWN: Fast bowler Dale Steyn has been recalled to South Africa’s Test squad for the two-match tour of Sri Lanka next month, providing him with another opportunity to become his country’s most prolific wicket-taker in five-day cricket.
Fellow seamer Kagiso Rabada, the number one ranked bowler in Tests, has also been included after overcoming a back injury that left his participation in doubt.
The 34-year-old Steyn, currently on a short-term contract with Hampshire having been plagued by injury over the last two-and-a-half years, is three wickets short of a milestone that has frustratingly eluded him in recent times.
He made a comeback after 13 months out due to shoulder problems when he opened the bowling in January’s first Test victory over India at Newlands, only to hurt his heel.
Steyn’s shoulder problems began in December 2015, and about a year later he broke his right shoulder and tore three major muscles during the first Test against Australia in Perth.
He has 419 wickets in 86 Tests at an average of 22.32 and regarded as among the sport’s greaTest fast bowlers for his ability to take wickets in all conditions.
South Africa are seeking to continue their fine form after home Test series wins over India and Australia this year as they begin life without batting stalwart AB de Villiers, who retired from all forms of international cricket last month.
They have also included uncapped leg-spinner Shaun von Berg, as well as recalling wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi as back-up to incumbent slow bowler Keshav Maharaj on what are expected to be turning wickets in Sri Lanka.
“A key factor in our selection process was to cover all our bases and all possible conditions that we may encounter in Sri Lanka,” Cricket South Africa national selection panel convener Linda Zondi said in a statement on Monday.
“The two additional spinners to back up Keshav Maharaj have both had excellent records in recent times in our domestic cricket. Von Berg also gives us additional batting strength in the lower order.”
The only other uncapped player in the squad is Heinrich Klaasen, who provides wicketkeeping cover for Quinton de Kock, but is also a contender for a specialist batting position with the retirement of De Villiers.
The first Test will be played in Galle from July 12-16 and the second in Colombo starting four days later, followed by a two-match one-day international series.
Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Lungisani Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Shaun von Berg.