Proteas: Rabada, Steyn in race against time for CWC opener

2019-05-07 14:40
Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The news out of the Proteas camp on Tuesday centred around Anrich Nortje's withdrawal from the World Cup squad. 

More concerning, however, is the reality that Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn have not yet been given the all-clear. 

Nortje picked up a freakish hand injury in Port Elizabeth on Monday and will be replaced in the squad by Chris Morris, but attention will now turn swiftly to Rabada and Steyn and getting the duo fit and firing for the May 30 tournament opener against England at The Oval. 

Team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee and physiotherapist Craig Govender addressed media in Johannesburg on Tuesday, and it quickly became clear that both Steyn and Rabada faced significant fitness challenges between now and the World Cup.

Rabada's current state is more worrying than Steyn's. 

"Kagiso Rabada developed a significant lower back lumbar muscle strain with associated muscle spasms while playing for Delhi," Moosajee explained.

"The anticipated recovery period is two to three weeks and we are hopeful that he will make a recovery to be part of the World Cup squad."

The use of the word "hopeful" does not inspire much confidence. 

Rabada's role in this Proteas World Cup charge can never be understated. He is undoubtedly South Africa's biggest strength with the ball, and he is the man tasked with leading a fast bowling attack that most accept is Faf du Plessis' most dangerous weapon heading into the tournament.

While Nortje's withdrawal is obviously unfortunate, a Rabada withdrawal would be catastrophic for the Proteas. 

"With KG we are extra cautious for two reasons. First, because he has had a previous back injury that kept him out of the game for a protracted period, and secondly because of his importance in the squad," Moosajee added.

"We are making sure that we are managing his rehab and return to play carefully. We are confident, but we want to give him as much time as possible."

Govender explained the difficulty in trying to manage Rabada's work load during his time in India at the IPL. 

"There is a lot of cricket being played and we try and manage that as best we can, but sometimes we can't when we are not there," Govender said.

"In the case of KG, we have to take into consideration flights in India. They don't always sit in the most comfortable domestic flights and he is a tall boy as well. Playing that amount of cricket and sitting for that amount of time does play a role for a fast bowler."

While Steyn's situation is also far from ideal, it sounds significantly more encouraging. 

"Dale Steyn consulted with an orthopaedic shoulder specialist in Cape Town," Moosajee said.

"He has responded well to treatment and is showing signs of improvement. Scans reveal nothing of significance compared to those done after his previous surgery.

"He is currently doing rehab and training and following a very specific program.

"He will be reassessed when we assemble for a World Cup camp this weekend." 

All of JP Duminy (shoulder), Lungi Ngidi (side strain) and Tabraiz Shamsi (back), meanwhile, have been cleared as being 100% fully fit. 

The Proteas squad will meet in Cape Town on Sunday where they will begin a three-day team building camp before jetting off to Pretoria to spend time in the nets at the High-Performance Centre in Pretoria.  

Read more on:    proteas  |  dale steyn  |  kagiso rabada  |  cricket


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