London - Dale Steyn has been ruled out of South Africa's Cricket World Cup opener against England at The Oval on Thursday.
That was the news from head coach Ottis Gibson in London on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old Steyn is still not at 100% as he continues to recover from the shoulder injury that saw him return home from the IPL earlier this month.
Steyn will miss Thursday's match and probably Sunday's against Bangladesh at the same venue, with Gibson identifying the June 5 fixture against India at the Rose Bowl in Southampton as potentially Steyn's first participation in the tournament.
"He's not quite ready yet. He's not far away ... but not quite yet," Gibson said.
"We think with a six-week tournament, there is no real need to force the issue.
"We know that he is close and he's getting closer every day. We'll give him as much time as we can to get him ready."
Steyn's fitness has been one of the major talking points in the build-up to South Africa's campaign.
It is no secret that the Proteas are banking heavily on their fast bowling in England, with Gibson and captain Faf du Plessis having both said as much publicly in the weeks building up to May 30.
Under overcast skies and in chilly London weather at The Oval on Tuesday, Steyn played a limited role at Proteas training.
He was fully involved in the warm-ups, but bowled just a few balls of a shortened run-up before strapping on the pads for a somewhat surprising extended batting session.
He then ran in by himself towards the end of the session, but was still not letting the ball go at the end of his stride.
In Steyn's absence, the Proteas are likely to go for one of Dwaine Pretorius or Chris Morris to complete their attack.
Morris is the most like-for-like replacement from a bowling perspective, while his inclusion would also significantly increase South Africa's lower order firepower with the bat.
The Oval wicket on Tuesday looked greener than expected, effectively ruling out the possibility of South Africa fielding two spinners.
@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...