If there was one positive to take out of South Africa’s performance in the Test series against India it would probably be the performance of the pace attack.
Conditions on the subcontinent are never really ideal for the quicks and throw in the fact that the Proteas had their depth tested with all of Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander suffering injuries at some point.
Morkel missed the first Test with a quadricep strain – which paved the way for 20-year-old Kagiso Rabada to make his debut – while Dale Steyn sat out three matches with a groin strain and Vernon Philander was sent home early with an ankle issue.
“I thought our bowlers were outstanding. Our seamers in particular were really good,” coach Russel Domingo said when the squad arrived home earlier this week.
It’s been confirmed that Philander will miss the first two matches of the Test series against England while Steyn is likely to play but still has to undergo a fitness test.
“It was probably the first tour that Ive been on where all three senior fast bowlers were injured at any one time,” Dr Mohammed Moosajee, Proteas team manager, said.
“The aim for him is to have a fitness test about a week from now to ascertain his availability for the Boxing Day Test match but we’re confident that Dale should be passed fit,” Moosajee said of Steyn’s ailment.
The British press, yet to arrive in the country, reported this week that Steyn would feature in the first round of Sunfoil Series matches next week but the idea was quashed by management.
But for Domingo, the fact that Kyle Abbott and Rabada were able to fill the void left by the likes of Steyn and Philander for the final part of the lengthy tour was a major plus ahead of a series set to be fought out on wickets that will suit the seamers.
“They were both brilliant. Kagiso had a wonderful one day and T20 series and in the two Test matches he played he performed really well. He’s definitely one for the future. The key with Kagiso is to not work him into the ground. The management of that young fast bowler is so important at this stage,” Domingo said.
“For his first sub-continent tour with the national side was nothing short of spectacular,” he added before touching on Abbott’s performances which included a five wicket haul in the Delhi Test.
“Kyle is always the guy who slips in when someone is injured and he’s a guy a coach always wants in his team. He’s a wonderful asset, wholehearted trier and we were so pleased that in five Test matches now he’s got two five wicket hauls. I’m very pleased with the progress those two have made,” the Proteas coach added.