Steyn out of Cricket World Cup in setback for South Africa

Associated Press

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the Cricket World Cup without bowling ball, leaving South Africa's pace attack in turmoil.

The 35-year-old Steyn was given as long as possible by South Africa management to prove his fitness, but a second setback on his injured right shoulder hastened the decision to call for reinforcements on the eve of Wednesday's crucial game against No. 2-ranked India.

Steyn didn't play in the opening losses to England and Bangladesh but had been bowling in practice, raising hopes he'd be OK to play the third of South Africa's nine group games.

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But with Lungi Ngidi sidelined for at least one more game after straining his left hamstring against Bangladesh, and with Anrich Nortje ruled out before the tournament with a broken thumb, Steyn's deadline expired on Tuesday.

Team manager Mohammed Moosajee said left-armer Beuran Hendricks, who made his ODI debut in January, had been drafted in as cover and was likely to arrive on Wednesday.

Moosajee said the injury would prevent Steyn from bowling "for the forseeable future," but didn't expect it to be a career-ending problem.

Skipper Faf du Plessis said the loss of the veteran paceman would change the balance of South Africa's squad, which entered the tournament with one of the most feared pace attacks but now will need to rely on allrounders.

He also said it would be a setback for the country's long-time pace spearhead.

"It's important for us to be strong for him. Dale has struggled really hard to get back into the team — he would need support right now," du Plessis said. "He needs love at the moment."

Du Plessis said Steyn was "bowling unbelievably well" in two games in the Indian Premier League before hurting the shoulder which has been a long-term rehabilitation issue since surgery in 2016.

South Africa selected Steyn in the 15-man squad after reassurances from three orthopedic specialists that he'd be able to overcome inflammation in the shoulder tendons, allowing him time to work back to full fitness.

But he had a second setback in another part of the shoulder after arriving in England, and didn't respond quickly enough to an injection to be considered fit enough to bowl at full strength.

"The management gave him that extended period of time because it is Dale Steyn and you want to give him as long as possible," du Plessis said. "Even him being ready for the next game or the game after that would still be a huge asset for us as a team.

"It's important for me that we make sure that we are there for him because I know he's been trying hard to make sure he is ready to try and make an impact on which will be his last World Cup."

This was to be Steyn's third and last World Cup, after helping his side reach the 2011 quarterfinals and 2015 semifinals. In 14 World Cup games, he took 23 wickets at an average of 23.39.

Steyn attended training at the Rose Bowl on the eve of the game against India, but didn't participate in any fielding or bowling practice and finished the session sitting in the main grandstand talking to team officials before his exit from the tournament was confirmed.


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