Cape Town - Proteas coach Russell Domingo says Dale Steyn is fit and hungry to play ahead of the three-match T20 international series against Australia starting at Kingsmead in Durban on Friday.
Steyn passed the necessary fitness tests, which included a club match outing at the weekend, following a lengthy shoulder injury, and makes a welcome return to international cricket after nearly two months on the sidelines.
The 32-year-old’s last T20I appearance was in the semi-final of the ICC World T20 in 2014, where a six-wicket loss to India ended the Proteas’ good run at the tournament. Since then, his involvement in the format has taken a retreat with younger bowlers being given opportunities and the management of his workload prioritising Test and ODI cricket, and his return brings a wealth of experience that is unmatched in world cricket.
“A hungry, fit, energised Dale is a massive plus for us,” Domingo said at the team hotel in Durban on Tuesday. “He hasn’t played for South Africa for a long period of time and he has come here with a great attitude. He is desperate to play, desperate to do well, he wants to win a World Cup, he wants to be involved in all formats of the game, so his energy levels are right up there and that bodes really well for us.
“He is an experienced bowler, whether he is bowling four overs or 10 overs in one-day cricket, so it’s not a big train smash for us,” Domingo explained. “The big thing for these type of players is making sure the hunger and passion is there, he has definitely got that at the moment. His skills are always going to be there, he is desperate to play for South Africa, and that is great news as a coach.”
Domingo says the three-match series against a strong Australian outfit will be a good barometer ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 starting in India next week, and an opportunity to give all of the players in the squad some game-time as the competition edges closer.
“We’ve all got an idea of probably what our best combination will be,” he said. “I am very keen to give everybody a game during this series, we want guys getting to the World Cup having played some sort of cricket, so that’s important for us. Once again winning is also important, we want to go to the World Cup confident, up there in the rankings, with a good style of play and some good performances behind us.”
The Proteas are currently ranked second behind first-placed India on the ICC T20I team rankings after their 2-0 win against England, while Australia are positioned in eighth-place and are coming off a 3-0 loss to India.