Dale Steyn set to return to competitive cricket after year-long lay-off

Ram Kumar

Steyn's previous appearance on the field had come last November against Australia in Perth

What's the story?

Legendary fast bowler Dale Steyn is set to return to competitive cricket after spending more than a year on the sidelines due to injury. The 34-year old has been named in Titans' squad which is gearing up to face the Knights in their Ram Slam T20 clash at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Wednesday.

Steyn will play under the captaincy of all-rounder Albie Morkel. The star pacer's inclusion bolsters an already strong squad which comprises of the likes of AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock and Tabraiz Shamsi.

"I am ready to go. Yes, I haven't played in a year, but there are no massive expectations. I am just looking forward to playing again and feeling part of the game. I'm not asking people to sit back and think I'm going to bowl at 150 kilometers per hour and that I'm going to take five wickets. If I can get through the game with minimal damage in terms of economy rate and pick up a wicket or two, that would be great", Steyn was quoted as saying by Titans' official website.

The context

Steyn's previous appearance on the cricket field came during the 2016 WACA Test against Australia in November. He had fractured his right shoulder while bowling on the second day of the match.

Upon breaking an already damaged bone, the veteran was forced to undergo a surgery in the aftermath of the injury. Following the operation's success, he began an arduous rehabilitation programme in order to gradually build his return to cricket.

The heart of the matter

Although he had initially targeted June 2017 for his comeback, Steyn had to delay his plans as the recovery process did not progress as expected. In his absence, South Africa endured a calamitous tour of England wherein they lost all three series aside from a botched Champions Trophy campaign.

Steyn's revised comeback aspirations had been aligned to coincide with the launch of the ambitious Global T20 League. However, due to various reasons, the tournament failed to take-off. As a consequence, the pacer will return to action for the Titans during the ongoing edition of the Ram Slam T20 tournament.

Titans Squad: Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Henry Davids, Farhaan Behardien, Albie Morkel (c), David Wiese, Malusi Siboto, Junior Dala, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi and Dale Steyn

What's next?

Steyn is on the cusp of becoming South Africa's all-time leading wicket-taker in Tests. He needs only five scalps to go past erstwhile teammate Shaun Pollock's record tally of 421 wickets. The seasoned campaigner is likely to return to the international arena during the four-day floodlit Test against Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth from December 26 to 29.

Author's take

Considering the relative paucity of world-class fast bowlers at the moment, the return of the iconic pacer is a shot in the arm not just for South African cricket but also for the game as a whole. Although his best years might be behind him, Steyn is definitely not finished yet.