Dale Steyn ruled out of 2nd Test, Amla eyeing comeback

Johannesburg—South African fast bowler Dale Steyn has been ruled out of second test against England after failing to recover from a shoulder injury. Captain Hashim Amla has confirmed the 32-year-old is still nursing a shoulder injury and will be replaced by Kagiso Rabada at Cape Town on Saturday.

Steyn hurt his shoulder in the first test and could bowl only 22 balls in the second innings. Rabada only made his debut in November in India and in three tests took two wickets for 111 runs.

Amla will be under pressure as South Africa have not produced a single convincing test performance since defeating a weak West Indies team at the same venue in the 2015 New Year fixture.

Their 241-run defeat in the first test against England at Kingsmead in Durban on Wednesday was their fourth loss in seven matches, with the other three fixtures severely affected by rain and ending in draws. Three of the defeats were in India.

South Africa’s batting has been dismal during this period, with only three totals over 200 in 10 completed innings and just one individual century – Dean Elgar’s undefeated 118 at Kingsmead – and three half-centuries.

Amla himself has hit the longest batting slump of his international career, scoring 150 runs in 10 test innings at an average of 15.00 with a highest score of 43. His form in one-day and Twenty20 internationals has been similarly poor with his most recent 19 innings in these formats yielding a single century – against New Zealand in August – and no fifties.

Amla took over the test captaincy in 2014 and made a good start with series wins against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and West Indies, contributing heavily with the bat as well.

But his recent form and an early history of reluctance to lead – he gave up an early provincial captaincy in order to concentrate on his batting, as well as the vice-captaincy of the national side at one stage – have caused questions to be asked about his future as test captain.

Following the Durban defeat he insisted he had “enjoyed every minute” of the job but expressed his disappointment at not being able to lead from the front in a struggling batting line-up. “We know we can turn it around,” he said.

Quinton de Kock seems likely to come into the team to strengthen the batting and take over as wicketkeeper from the over-worked AB de Villiers. 

England, meanwhile, go into the match on a wave of confidence after most of their players made significant contributions in Durban. 

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