Dale Steyn will not feature in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 tournament opener for South Africa against England due to a shoulder injury. (Image credit: Twitter)
South Africa head into every World Cup as the favourite but they manage to spectacularly botch up their chances in every edition. Be it the rain-rule of 1992 or wrong team selection in 1996 to a choke in the 1999 World Cup semi-final against Australia, South Africa have gone out of the tournament in spectacular fashion. In 2003, they misread the Duckworth-Lewis target while in 2007, they were outplayed by an Australian team on top of their game. New Zealand got the better of them in the 2011 and 2015 encounters and thus, heading into the 2019 edition, South Africa will be desperate to snap their jinx.
The opening encounter of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 features South Africa taking on England at The Oval but the Proteas have been jolted with pace ace Dale Steyn been ruled out of the clash due to a shoulder injury. Faf du Plessis, speaking in the pre-match press conference, admitted that Steyn’s absence is a massive blow which could alter their team combinations for the game against England.
“He is a big loss for our team. He was probably about 60 per cent when the squad was picked so we anticipated for this to happen, but a fit Dale Steyn makes our bowling attack a very, very strong one. So tomorrow will be a little bit of chopping and changing,” du Plessis said.
Steyn has been troubled by injuries for the last couple of years. A serious shoulder injury during the Perth Test against Australia ruled him out of action for close to a year and on his comeback, he has been plagued with more injuries. Steyn played a couple of IPL games for Royal Challengers Bangalore but had to curtail his campaign as he suffered a shoulder injury yet again. Although Steyn has been ruled out, the Proteas still have the services of Kagiso Rabada, who excelled in the IPL with his brilliant display of bowling. Rabada, who has been one of the best bowlers across all formats for a couple of seasons now, could give South Africa the edge and du Plessis stated this World Cup could be his stage.
“KG does not need any guidance from me. I can speak to him from a tactical point of view but I won't tell him how to bowl, he knows more than I do. It is about setting him free. World Cups are for people to perform and KG will want to make this his stage. Dale is a big loss to our team but we expected it. But a fit Dale Steyn makes our attack a strong one so we need to make a few changes to our team for England. Our bowling is one of our X-factors,” du Plessis said.
When asked about the choker’s tag and about England’s current form, du Plessis responded, “Whether you are favourites or not, you still have to play good cricket. They deservedly have the tag because they are the home nation and have consistently played good cricket. But you will face such different opposition through this tournament so it is about making sure you stay focused for the whole tournament. England is the favourites so if it means on the day there is less pressure on us then we can play freely. We are going in as underdogs and if that releases some players in the team then that is great,” du Plessis said.