Conditions to determine Steyn selection

Dale Steyn (Gallo)
Dale Steyn (Gallo)

Cape Town - Dale Steyn will only feature in the first Test against India on Friday if the Proteas opt to go into the match without a specialist allrounder. 

That was the takeaway from South African coach Ottis Gibson's Newlands press conference on Tuesday as the build-up to this highly-anticipated series continues. 

Gibson did say that everybody in his squad was fit and available, but the likelihood of Steyn dislodging one of Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel or Vernon Philander for a place on Friday seems highly unlikely. 

But with the wicket in Cape Town expected to be green, the possibility does exist for the Proteas to go into the fixture with four specialist seam bowlers spearheading their attack.

That could mean leaving out spinner Keshav Maharaj, but it more likely means going in without Andile Phehlukwayo or Chris Morris as the genuine allrounder. 

If either of those scenarios take shape, then Steyn will come into the equation. 

"We have to take each set of conditions as we find them and try and select the best team for the conditions we have," Gibson said from Newlands.

"We don't know just yet if we're going to see him (Steyn) this weekend coming, but depending on the make-up of the team he might well play.

"Whatever happens we will pick the best team to win the Test match."

That suggested that the Proteas may want to go into Cape Town heavy in the bowling department, but if they opt to go for Maharaj and a specialist allrounder in Chris Morris or Andile Phehlukwayo, then it is hard to see Steyn featuring. 

"He's had a year lay-off," Gibson explained.

"I don't think that if we were to pick a three-man seam attack plus a spinner that you would want to put him in that attack in case something happens and he leaves the team vulnerable.

"That's not to say that he won't finish the game, but you wouldn't want to take that risk with the first game of the summer. We have to just look at the best combination of players that we have, and he will come into the discussion."

The good news for the Proteas is that Faf du Plessis has fully recovered from his back strain and the virus that kept him out of the Boxing Day Test against Zimbabwe, while Quinton de Kock is also fully fit after the hamstring strain he picked up in that match. 

That means that AB de Villiers will not have keep wicket at Newlands. 

Gibson added that there was still a little bit of illness hovering around in the squad, saying that both he and Hashim Amla were the latest victims. 

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