The 34-year-old has only recently returned to competitive cricket with Hampshire in the Royal London One-Day Cup after suffering a freakish injury during the first Test against India in January this year.
That Test was Steyn’s comeback to international cricket after more than a year out due to a shoulder injury suffered in the series against Australia in 2016.
“It is very welcome news to have Dale back in our pack of world-class seamers, particularly in view of the retirement of Morne Morkel,” Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) National Selection Panel convener Linda Zondi said on Monday after the announcement of the 15-man squad.
There was also some good news on the fitness front for Kagiso Rabada, with the young pacer now having completely recovered from a lower-back injury which ruled him out of the IPL this year.
“Kagiso Rabada has also made a complete recovery from the injury concerns he had at the end of the Australia Test Series,” Zondi said.
Wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi has been given a Test recall while uncapped leg-spinner Shaun von Berg has been included in the squad too.
“A key factor in our selection process was to cover all our bases and all possible conditions that we may encounter in Sri Lanka. The two additional spinners to back up Keshav Maharaj have both had excellent records in recent times in our domestic cricket. Von Berg also gives us additional batting strength in the lower order,” Zondi stated.
“Heinrich Klaasen is the other uncapped player although he has been part of our squad for some time. He provides wicketkeeping cover for Quinton de Kock and is also a contender for a specialist batting position,” he added.
South Africa will play two Tests in their tour of Sri Lanka with the first of them getting underway at Galle on July 12.
SOUTH AFRICA 15-MAN SQUAD
Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Lungisani Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Shaun von Berg.
The pacer bowled some absolutely ripping spells in the premier T20 competition and picked up 20 wickets in 14 matches for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
While crediting RCB bowling coach Ashish Nehra for his successful IPL, Umesh has also thanked skipper Virat Kohli for giving him the freedom to go for the kill.
“Any performer is happy when he successfully executes his plans. I am really happy with my performance in the IPL. It was unfortunate that we could not make it to the play-offs but it was one of my best IPL seasons,” he said in an interview with the Press Trust of India.
“Virat had one clear instruction for me. Go for the kill. He told me ‘get me the wickets and do not bother about getting hit’. I did as my skipper told me,”
With the IPL now over, all of the attention will switch to the tour of England where India are slated to play five Tests against the hosts.
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami all jostling for positions in India’s pace battery for the series along with Yadav, Kohli is bound to have some selection headaches.
However, the 30-year-old right-arm quick is only focusing on doing his job if called upon by the Indian skipper.
“We are five pacers – Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar), Bumrah, Shami, Ishant and myself. So it’s a happy headache for the team management – the coach and the captain to pick the best amongst us. I am personally in a very good head space after IPL. My job is to be ready and captain and the head coach have their job,” Yadav said.
“We are a close-knit group and even when Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar) or Jassi (Bumrah) do well, I am proud of their achievements. My job is to be battle ready for the season ahead and I am doing just that,” he added.
India’s tour of England will start on July 3 with the first of the three T20Is. That will be followed by a three-match ODI series before the attention shifts to the Tests which conclude on September 11.
Eoin Morgan‘s side will play five matches in the space of 15 days against the tourists, who are back in action for the first time since the calamitous tour of South Africa earlier this year.
Here, we take a look at five talking points ahead of cricket’s oldest rivals going head to head.
STRONG AND STABLE
England arguably plumbed new depths at the last World Cup when they exited in the group stages with barely a whimper. Their subsequent transformation has been nothing short of remarkable and six series wins on the spin have taken them to the top of the ODI rankings, though defeat to Scotland was a wake-up call.
While there are plenty of vacancies in the Test team, England’s 50-over side almost chooses itself with only one or two spaces possibly up for grabs. A largely settled line-up is one of the reasons why they are strong contenders to go all the way at next year’s World Cup on home soil.
HALES FOR STOKES?
There will be one enforced change, at least for the start of the series, as all-rounder Ben Stokes recovers from a hamstring injury. However, England’s deep reserves of talent mean no squad member is irreplaceable.
Stokes’ well-publicised legal issues precluded him from England’s ODI series win in Australia earlier this year and, on that occasion, Alex Hales was brought in to further bolster the top order. The Nottinghamshire big-hitter will likely do so again unless England opt for a different approach and choose Sam Billings.
AUSTRALIA’S NEW CHAPTER
This tour marks the start of a new era for Australia, who are seeking to rebuild from the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier this year that led to the suspensions of captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner.
The tourists are further weakened by the absence of injured fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, the trio whose presence proved so instrumental in the Ashes. England would have been favourites had the quintet been available but are more overwhelmingly so now.
THE ‘L’ WORD
Australia’s talk of the ‘line’ was as ubiquitous as it was much-maligned and even toxic during the Ashes, so there was a fair degree of schadenfreude when their misdeeds in South Africa were exposed.
Australia have attempted to draw a line under the controversy but captain Tim Paine and new head coach Justin Langer have insisted that Australia will continue to sledge on the field. Indeed, Langer claimed that sledging is in Australia’s DNA but warned: “There’s a difference between banter and abuse. There’s no room for abuse anywhere.”
England are only six months removed from their tour of Australia, where they bounced back from their Ashes humbling to clinch a hugely impressive 4-1 series victory on the ODI leg of the tour. There is some logic to the England hierarchy’s apparent prioritising of the white-ball formats, especially with the 2019 World Cup in mind, but another 50-over series between these teams seems excessive.
Plenty would have preferred a decider against Pakistan after an entertaining two-Test series was left tantalisingly poised at one win apiece.