Dale Steyn has probably endured the most frustrating phase of his illustrious career over the past year or so. The South Africa pace ace was out of action for almost a year after fracturing his shoulder during the series against Australia in 2016-17.
Then, he suffered a freak injury on his return to the South African side during the first Test against India earlier this year.
That meant another lengthy spell on the sidelines for the express pacer. That grim picture has been changing recently with Steyn completing his return to competitive cricket for Hampshire in the ongoing One-Day Cup.
There was further good news for the stalwart when he was named in the South African Test squad for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.
While it is great to see the pacer’s career get back on track after a spate of unlucky injuries, it was even more heartwarming to see Steyn come together with pace legends Wasim Akram and Jeff Thomson during a recent event at the Lord’s cricket ground in London.
The legendary Pakistan pacer posted a picture of the three stalwarts on Twitter with a caption which read: “Five decades of fast bowling and over 1,100 Test wickets between us. Dale Steyn, Jeff Thomson and I catching up last night in the Long room at Lords.”
Steyn wasted no time in returning the compliment to Pakistan and Australia fast-bowling greats.
The 34-year-old replied to the Twitter post, saying, “You two are legends! Never thought a kid from Phalaborwa would hang out with my heroes! “
The South Africa pacer is currently on track to become the country’s highest wicket-taker in the Test cricket and he will be eyeing the tour of Sri Lanka to achieve the feat. The right-armed bowler has picked up 419 wickets in just 86 Tests so far and trails Shaun Pollock (421) by only two wickets.
Steyn had recently spoken about his target of breaking that record while announcing him ambitions of playing in the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.
Key all-rounder Stokes was not officially named on Tuesday morning in a 14-man squad which does contain the uncapped Sam Curran – who made his Test debut at Headingley this month.
England announced the previous day that the hamstring tear Stokes suffered before that Test against Pakistan was “progressing well”, and it was hoped he may be able to play in the three-match Twenty20 series starting against India on July 3.
That option still appears possible, because the key all-rounder will travel with the squad chosen for those three matches and the one-off fixture against Australia which will follow the ongoing one-day international series – at Edgbaston on June 27.
Seamer Mark Wood is rested from the squad, with Jake Ball instead in the running to win his first Twenty20 cap, while there are a clutch of notable omissions.
Batsman Dawid Malan has made four half-centuries in just five Twenty20 appearances to date – including two in succession in England’s most recent matches in New Zealand last winter. He averages exactly 50 in the format, with a strike rate above 150.
There is no place for him, however, along with short-format regulars Sam Billings and Liam Dawson – while Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow return alongside Moeen Ali, after the Yorkshire pair were rested from England’s Twenty20 programme last winter.
The England and Wales Cricket Board attached a brief statement to the squad announcement.
It read: “Durham seamer Mark Wood is rested.
“All-rounder Ben Stokes will be with the squad throughout the series as he continues his rehabilitation from his torn left hamstring.”
As expected, Chris Woakes is not yet fit after tearing his thigh and having an injection in a knee injury which England have described as “chronic”.
He still hopes to be available again in time for the three-match ODI series against India, which starts on July 12.
England Twenty20 squad (v Australia and India):
EJG Morgan (Captain), MM Ali, JM Bairstow, JT Ball, JC Buttler (wkt), SM Curran, TK Curran, AD Hales, CJ Jordan, LE Plunkett, AU Rashid, JE Root, JJ Roy, DJ Willey
Arjun Tendulkar, son of Indian legend Sachin, will be treated ‘like any other member of the team’ when the 18-year-old joins the Under-19 squad, according to the team’s bowling coach.
Arjun is in line to make his India debut after making the cut for their tour of Sri Lanka next month. He was named in the four-day squad.
Considering his father is one of the game’s icons, a lot of focus will be on how his son fares in the matches but bowling coach Sanath Kumar says the youngster will not be treated any differently just because of his surname.
“I don’t know about that as it’s not my area of concern but as a coach, all the boys are equal for me,” said Kumar, who is standing in for Paras Mhambrey for the tour of Sri Lanka.
“For me, Arjun is no different from other kids. My job is to bring the best out of each and every one of them.”
Arjun and his team-mates will report for a training camp on July 1 in Bangalore and Kumar has already outlined the areas that he wants to work on.
“For any fast bowler, the more he can land the ball on the seam, the more effective he can be. So landing the ball on the seam and how to use the crease, bowling closer to the stumps are certain aspects I would like to focus during the camp,” Kumar said.