Ottis Gibson reluctant to pick Dale Steyn for Newlands Test

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Ottis Gibson reluctant to pick Dale Steyn for Newlands Test

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SportsCafe Desk

01/03/2018

South African coach Ottis Gibson has admitted that picking Dale Steyn in the team for the first Test against India in Cape Town was a selection headache for the management. Gibson has also stated that he would take a horses-for-courses approach while picking the final XI for the India series.

AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn – the two titans of the South African cricket - returned to the Proteas' Test squad for the inaugural four-day, day-night Test against Zimbabwe and while de Villiers led the side to a comprehensive victory within two days, the latter couldn’t find a place in the team. However, the Indian batsmen’s past struggle against the quick harbored hopes of his comeback in Cape Town and it was believed that it would conclude a remarkable comeback that at times has seemed almost impossible since he broke a bone in his shoulder during the Perth Test in November 2016. He was initially thought to need six months to recover from surgery but further muscle tear almost doubled that time.

However, given Steyn's lengthy absence from international cricket, Gibson appears reluctant to include him in the combination for the Newlands Test.

"Dale Steyn is fit again. But I don't know just yet whether we will see him this week. He has had a year's layoff. I don't think if we were to pick a three-man seam attack plus a spinner that you would want to put him in that three-man attack, in case something happens and that leaves the team vulnerable if he can't finish the game. That's not to say that he won't finish the game, but you don't want to take that risk in the first game of the summer. He will come into the discussion but it depends on the formation of the team that we put on the field," Gibson said, reported AFP.

"You're looking at three different sets of conditions. Down here on the coast, the wicket tends to dry out quickly so you might play an extra bowler [all-rounder] here. Further up into the Highveld, it might be different. We have to take each set of conditions as we find them now and then pick the best team for them."

Currently, South Africa sit at the No. 2 position in Test cricket and will need a clean sweep over India and to beat Australia by a margin of at least two Tests in order to reclaim the Test mace. Although this seems like a long shot, it is quite achievable for the team from the rainbow nation, or so Gibson believes.

"In one-day cricket, I don't worry too much about rankings because it's built around a four-year cycle of World Cup cricket. You can be No. 1 in the world and you don't win the World Cup. It doesn't matter where you are once you go to the World Cup. In Test cricket it's different. You play a series against the best teams in the world and then the prize at the end of it is to reach the pinnacle and be called the best team in the world - even if it is just for a series or a week," he added.

"The objective for this team is to try and get to No. 1. We feel strongly that if we win the next two series that will put us somewhere very close to being No. 1 again. The next two series will tell us [where we stand] or take us somewhere towards where we want to go. Everybody understands what we are trying to achieve."

The opening Test of the series between two top-ranked Test teams will start at Newlands on Friday.

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